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African American Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Class

Like the lack of decent housing, African Americans also suffer from a lack of quality education and are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, as Hughes satirizes in the above poem's ending. Such injustices are often systematically reinforced in American society through institutions from the criminal justice system to educational institutions. We see Hughes question the discrimination and limitations against Blacks in the educational system in his poem Theme for English B. He is told to go home and write a page that comes out of him and it will be true. However, the speaker in the poem wonders if that is true, knowing how often white people seldom understand or appreciate Black people. In one of the most moving parts of the speech, the speaker expresses his beliefs that all people are connected on a human level, 'I guess being colored doesn't make me not like / the same things other folks like who are other races, / So will my page be colored that I write? / Being me, it will not be white. / But it will be / a part of you, instructor, / You are white-- / yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. / That's American' (Hughes 1). We see that Hughes makes the distinction that his page will not be white, a reference to the desire of many to assimilate Blacks into mainstream culture. However, he also informs his instructor he is part of him even though he is Black, because unity is a hallmark of democratic, American free society.

We see Hughes further the extension of this theme of American freedom and unity for all in the poem Let American be America Again. However, he does not insist America is such a land in this poem. He pleads for America to evolve into such a land, since he knows as a marginalized minority the ideals of America are not extended to African Americans, 'O, let my land be a land where Liberty / Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, / But opportunity is real, and life is free, / Equality...

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African American Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Class. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:35, August 20, 2017, from
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