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.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.
If you would like an auditory experience of the powerful words by Langston Hughes, I highly recommend that you watch this, reciter, Denzel Washington.
Admit it, you already know you are in for a treat and indeed a treat it is, as was the movie this clip is from, The Great Debaters.
Unless you have been living under a rock, the situations of Black people in America, No! I am not talking about the horrors of the past, what’s done is done. I am talking about what is happening right now. The nightmare that the Blacks are still living which would have been, could have been, should have been a beautiful dream.
The Beautiful American Dream.
Rather what they have is a fancy social media tag #BlackLivesMatter, and even that was taken over by others in the form of #AllLivesMatter and what not, as though even that was too much for them to have.
Note that this poem dates back to 1945, a period of great difficulty for the African Americans, rampant with prejudice and racism that too institutionalized.
Yes, it is not as bad as it was then but as the great American scholar Imam Siraj Wahaj said, the racism problem never went away, it just went in deeper. If you aren’t familiar with what horrors I mentioned above and how it is bad but not as bad as it was, I request that you check the video below which is part of a lecture series, The Life of Malcolm X. Note that it is a sensitive topic and the Imam makes it clear, so things you will hear may hurt you.
Coming back to the poem.
I, too, sing America. The poet refers to his (can also be understood in the plural sense as referring to all the Africans Americans) patriotism, that he also feels for America, works for America, wants good for America, that he is also a part of America.
He is the darker brother, and discriminated against for being that, treated in a different way than others.
But he takes it on the chin, laughs, eats well, prepares .
If you intend to dig deep into this, I recommend that you read up on the Civil Rights Movement, learn more about Black History, and what all it took to change their situation.
He prepares for a future, where he will be treated equally, and no one will have the audacity to scorn at him.
Sadly the future that the poet wanted has not materialized, not yet.
Besides they will see that he always was, what he is now, beautiful. A fact that they were oblivious to or rather purposefully overlooked.
And be ashamed.
I, too, am America.