Final Essay.docx - Nguyen 1 Taylor Nguyen Professor Kennedy...

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Nguyen 1 Taylor Nguyen Professor Kennedy English 101 15 August 2018 A Reflection of Racism and Identity in Langston Hughes’ Works Langston Hughes is a well-known Harlem Renaissance black writer. Hughes personal experience and beliefs inspires his short stories and poems. Hughes passionately writes particularly about black American culture and community. In the following poems: “I, Too”, “Theme for English B” and “Mother to Son” and his short story “On the Road” he challenges the ideas of race and American identity. In the poem “I, Too” Hughes expresses his focus on America’s history of racial oppression. However, he also brings light to a better future by envisioning a white society recognizing black Americans as equal and being ashamed by their preconception. In the poem, the speaker states that he, too, is an American despite the color of his skin. The speaker describes his personal experience with racial discrimination. He describes his oppression as if he is an embarrassment to the dominant members of society. However, the oppression doesn’t prevent him from laughing and growing strong. The speaker imagines a future where he is no longer sent to the kitchen and the white majority will view him as beautiful and “be ashamed” of their actions (Hughes). This poem explores segregation in the perspective of an African American and demonstrates Hughes’ focus of self-empowerment in order to gain equality. He begins the poem with, “I, too, sing America/ I am the darker brother” (Hughes). Hughes is stating that not only whites are Americans, but African Americans are citizens and should be treated equally. Hughes describes a common situation that many African Americans experienced during this time when he states, “they send me to eat in the kitchen/ when company comes/ But I laugh/ And eat well/ And grow strong”. This is a common practice of racial segregation. This also shows that the speaker is optimistic despite being mistreated by the white culture. The speaker proclaims
Nguyen 2 “They’ll see how beautiful I am/ And be ashamed” (Hughes). Hughes is suggesting that one day African Americans will be seen as equal and those who oppressed them for years will feel ashamed for their prejudice. Hughes successfully demonstrates black oppression and the optimistic views of the future where there won’t be any more racial inequality.

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