The Race For Equality Essay

1133 words - 5 pages

In the poem, "Theme for English B", by Langston Hughes, Hughes talks about the African American struggle for equality. This is a common subject for Hughes with many of his poems being about blacks and the injustices they face. The poem starts off with an instructor giving his students a paper to write, and the instructor says to the student,And let that page come out of you-Then, it will be true (Bauknight 564).The poem then continues as the paper that Hughes is writing. In the paper, he explains everything he feels in his heart, just as his instructor has told him to. His paper illustrates exactly what an African-American man feels, acts, and thinks about in his everyday life. This is the natural struggle that most black men face; to be seen as equals in society.The point that Hughes tries to get across to his teacher is that he, the black man, likes and does the same things as the white man. Hughes wonders if his paper will be graded differently because he is black. To illustrate this point, he says,I guess being colored doesn't make me not likethe same things other folks like who are other races.So will my page be colored that I write (Bauknight 564)The biggest difference in the two has nothing to do with the color of their skin, but how the world views them. Hughes was not asking for sympathy, or for an apology, just understanding. He thinks that even that will be hard, knowing that he and his professor come from two completely different worlds. He explains that with men and black men will always impact each other's lives, but Hughes knows that the white man wants no part of the black man's life. Hughes' only meager wish is to be accepted-not as a black man, but as an American.In the article Making Whiteness Visible, Wendy Ryan and Ian Marshall write on the many ways that whites show unintentional prejudices towards African Americans. Wendy Ryan says that it is a basic part of racial inequality that many whites feel there is a need to "help blacks". This is where the gap between the races is obvious. Blacks, as a whole, want to be accepted more than just cared for. Hughes argues that underneath the skin, whites and blacks are the same. He says he thinks a pipe is a good Christmas present and that he likes "white" music like bop (jazz) and Bach. He just wants to be seen as equal. Ian Marshall writes that "whites reproduce the values, cultures, and beliefs of the elite. This occurs most obviously when a non-white student brings up the issue of racism in the classroom and is met with silence by the teacher." When a teacher is not able to openly discuss topics such as race, it not only reaffirms to the students that the prejudices exist and are real, but that they are right. This attitude is what has kept racial inequality present in today's society.Langston Hughes also writes that there is a constant connection between black and whites. He says: "You are white- Yet a part of me, as I am part of you. That's American." Susan Naomi Bernstein, in...

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