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By Langston Hughes
Travel Back In Time...
We knew that terrible conditions continued to oppress black Americans after Emancipation, of course. We knew that lynchings and the unequal application of the law kept a boot on their necks. We knew, for that matter, that slavery was still going strong around the world. Slavery was an anticipated cruel ideology and way of life which gave the blacks no right but to live while under so called 'care' which wasn't really care, instead it was more of jail of cotton.
When Langston Hughes wrote the poem 'I, Too' he did not write it just for him, he wrote it for every African American who was forced to do something that they did not want to for every person who was beat and held against there will, and for all those were were reviled and oppressed physically, emotionally, and mentally.
The poem "I, Too" by Langston Hughes is an excellent example of a poem using the word "I" as something other than its literal meaning.
"I, Too" is about the segregation of African Americans, whites, the approaching end to segregation, and how it affects both participating sides.
The first line of "I, Too" uses the word "I" right away.
The line states "I, too, sing America".
This meter in particular is as important as the entirety of the poem. It means not only whites are Americans, but African Americans are citizens and should be treated equally.
In the following stanza, the word "I" is used severally.
The first line of the second stanza states "I am the darker brother" -- meaning he may be African American, but he is still an American.
The following five meters state "They send me to eat in the kitchen. When company comes, but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong".
The use of "I" here is showing that African Americans do not worry about what is being done, but how they are growing stronger as segregation continues, knowing soon they will be equal. That the attempt of slavery to demean African Americans only made them stronger.
African Americans were not allowed to eat with whites. They generally were not allowed to use the same entrances, exits, toilets, or the same room to eat in. Therefore, the line " they send me to eat in the kitchen" is a reference to the immense segregation and dissociation between whites and blacks; which were generally called Jim Crow.
The third stanza shows what the future will be like, or as Hughes uses the metaphorical "tomorrow." The stanza reads "Tomorrow, I'll be at the table when company comes. Nobody'll dare say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then".
The use of "I" helps showing the African American community will soon rise and be one with the rest of America. The diction used in this stanza also expresses the built up anger but also the strength that derived from slavery.
The fourth stanza concludes in a way which states
African Americans are not inherently bad, but inherently good
. The stanza reads "Besides, they'll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed "I, too, am America".
Here Hughes says that once African American's are recognized as equal, everyone will see they are not bad and equal to animals but that they are beautiful human beings, as well as part of America.
Langston Hughes employs metaphors and his unique style of writing to convey and increase the effectiveness of his overall message. His usage of "I" helps reiterate that he too is an American and will not be let down by society nor will other African Americans. "I, Too" depicts the view of African Americans in the past and their strength to move forward.
Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. He wrote his first poem in 1921. From here he grew to become a popular poet and one of the key influences of the Harlem Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance was an African American artistic movement. During this time, Harlem was considered a center for many African American poets, writers, photographers, and musicians. Langston Hughes was one of the most influential poets during this time his work properly represented the way that African Americans were living during this time period and many of the things that they went through.