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Charley Blount Blog Post 10/26

Throughout history, our country has been advertised as a beacon of liberty and freedom. In reality, those ideals are nothing more than dreams for Many Americans. Langston Hughes uses his poems to discuss the racial and economic inequities that persist in America, despite the encouraging rhetoric that is promulgated by white, wealthy America. In his poem, “Let America Be America Again, Hughes acknowledges disparities in American prosperity, saying, “I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek— And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak” (Hughes). Hughes first identifies the large swaths of the population that face oppression every day, then criticizes the capitalist structure of our American economy that stimulates class divisions that often fall along racial lines. In a much more individual sense, Langston is describing “the man who never got ahead” because of financial restrictions or racial discrimination.

Hughes’ criticism of the status quo is only part of “Let America Be America Again.” In the latter half of the poem, Hughes challenges the United States to live up to the lofty ideals that the founders set for the nation. Hughes says, “O, let America be America again—The land that never has been yet—And yet must be—the land where every man is free” (Hughes). Hughes argued that the United States could not continue to hide behind the guise of universal opportunity and equality. According to Hughes, in order to achieve this vision, the United States must rebuild itself rather than attempting to work within the constraints of a broken system manufactured to perpetuate discrimination and economic inequities.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    I also highlighted the quote you mentioned from “Let America be America Again” and how the experiences of these oppressed groups are counter examples to the American Dream. I also thought it was interesting how he ended this poem by encouraging the oppressed groups to rise and reinvent the U.S as a real place of equality and freedom like it claims to be. He points out the broken system of the U.S and shows the real and oppressive flaws that need to be fixed.

  2. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    In this class, we read works of literature that pick apart American capitalism and how it perpetuates class division and racial discrimination, including these poems by Langston Hughes. These arguments are clear to me, and I am seeing it occur still today. I do not think America will ever move away from capitalism, so how do we make the systems less corrupt? There has been criticism of capitalism for hundreds of years, so what is the reason no change has been made? If changes are made, will capitalism be as economically successful?

  3. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    I think the way you highlighted “The man who never got ahead” is very important. We have to remember the ways that slavery still had its “scars” as Hughes says. He talks about economic struggles and inequality, but it also is accompanied by social inequality and struggle that leads to other struggles such as fighting for your a country in which you don’t necessarily feel welcome in, as Hughes writes in his “V day” poem.

  4. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    I think the value of what Hughes says in his poem “Let America Be America Again” should not be ignored. In the poem, Hughes does not doubt American values. In fact, Hughes praises them. However, Hughes does imply that American values had been hijacked by aristocratic whites to exclude and subordinate minority populations, in the process, preventing America from being America. I think this idea is especially relevant today in an American society that is highly divided by race, politics, and class. With all these problems, it can be easy to say that American values are corrupt; however, if we apply Hughes’ understanding, we can suggest that the problem is more likely to be found in those that use the political system to their advantage and prevent the advancement towards equality.

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