I, Too, See Color and It is Beautiful

Famous African-American poet Langston Hughes was a pillar in the Harlem Renaissance. He dedicated most of his work to writing about the struggles of being Black in America. I have never been much of a reader to be honest. There are very few works of literature that spark my interest enough to break through my short attention span. Poetry, on the other hand, I have always loved because it is usually short and abstract. With this being said, one of the first poems that ever managed to move me in my feels was the poem “I, Too” published in 1926 by Langston Hughes. 

 

I, Too

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

 

I, too, sing America.

 

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

 

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”

Then.

 

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

 

I, too, am America.

 

The reason I love reading Langston Hughes’ work is because, as a White-Latin American woman, I will never understand what it means to be black. However, through his work, I can listen and learn to be more compassionate with the struggles that Black people have faced and continue to face today. The poem “I, Too” came to mind for me when I saw some posters from a Black Lives Matter protest go viral on social media. The posters spoke about what happens when we “don’t see color.”

As shown in the posters above, when we, as non-Black people, tell a Black person that “we don’t see color,” we are telling them that we don’t see a difference between their struggles and our own. Color blindness is a defense mechanism used to reduce accountability by minimizing the experiences Black people face due to racial prejudice. Regardless of whether a person means to or not, that is what happens when the argument of “not seeing color” is used. One’s inability to “see color” promotes the idea that everyone in modern society has the same opportunities, which in turn disregards what is known as systematic racism

What does it mean to see color? Seeing color means not only seeing patterns but also understanding the root of these patterns. To see color means to not minimize the experiences that black people endure in their everyday lives. Seeing color means appreciating differences in cultures. It means listening and being aware of our own prejudices. When Langston Huges wrote “they’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed” in his poem, I believe he wrote about a dream he had as a black man. Where one day white people would acknowledge their prejudices, put them aside, and truly see black people for what they are-- beautiful. 

Some might think that the Black Lives Matter movement has died down over the past few days, however, it continues to be as important as ever. It is hard sometimes to come across an issue that is passionate to us and feel as if there is nothing we can truly do about it. However, that is wrong because there is always something you can do. As a generation, I believe we should not underestimate the power of transformation. Which is why I want to encourage whoever is reading this to engage in silent activism.

What do I mean by silent activism? I do not mean to go sit on a tree on behalf of Black Lives Matter and refuse to talk to anyone. What I mean is that you must continue to be an activist every day, even if it is on the “down low.” How can you do this? Stand up to your racist friends, let them know when a joke is not funny. Have tough conversations with your loved ones. Do not stand for those who promote racism and bigotry. And last but not least, use every and any opportunity you have to educate others and stand up against racism. 

 

I wanna dedicate this article to all my Black friends and loved ones, for I will always see you and fight for the world you deserve alongside you. 

 

If you would like to reach out to me about this subject feel free to email me at [email protected]

Take care and until next time lovelies!

-B

 

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