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Blog Post for 10/26

I had heard the name Langston Hughes before listening to the podcast and reading the reading assigned, but I never knew the true significance of his work and his voice in the Civil Rights movement until learning a bit more about him. Although it is sad, many of his poems that we read for class still ring true and hold similar senitments for the America we live in today, in the twenty-first century. One particular example of this that stood out to me was his poem Let America Be America Again. Over the events of the recent months in light of police brutality and the strengthening of the Black Lives Matter movement, I have read many resources that question the validity of “the American Dream”, the idea that anyone can come to America and rise up from poverty to great wealth due because we are a land of freedom, equality, and opportunity. By learning more about the experiences, both past and present, of Americans with less privilege than myself, it is clear that opportunities are not always equally distributed to all members of society. Generational poverty, heavy police presences leading to mass incarceration, and lack of proper educational and community programs, disproportionally centered in non-white areas, create systems that make it harder for some than for others to get the most basic of opportunities such as a job or an education. Systemic racism makes living while being a BIPOC inherently more difficult than living while white, due to racism embedded in police and justice systems meant to protect and serve our communities. This greatly calls into question the idea of the American Dream for every person, when millions of people are disadvantaged just because of their status at birth. Hughes’s poem Let America be America Again calls upon this in a direct way, stating that the America promoted in the American Dream and the idealized version of the country never truly existed for people who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, etc. It also is similar to Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” tagline, which implies that there was an America before when people had more rights and life was better, despite the fact that this America never existed for those who are systemically disadvantaged. Although saddening, Hughes’s works give great insight and inspiration to the voices of the Civil Rights movement, and to the issues we are still working to overcome today.

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