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Racism or racialism is any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview—the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called “races,” that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some races are innately superior to others. Racism was at the heart of North American slavery and the overseas colonization and empire-building activities of some western Europeans, especially in the 18" century. 

There had been many persons in history who objected to this racist ideal. They are called anti-racialists, Langston Hughes was one of them, and many of his poems bear evidence of his anti-racialist attitude. ' 

“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” is apparently concerned with proving the ancientness of the Negro race, but at a deeper level, it is a protest against slavery of the black Americans through hundreds of years. The poem voices the soul of the black community in a time of great racial intolerance, injustice, and inequality in America. Hughes inspired and united the black community when their voice was not accepted by the predominantly white society. As a result, he became the unofficial poet lauréate of the Harlem Renaissance that voiced the protest of the black Americans against the discrimination made by the whites against the Negroes. 

The poem “I, Too, Sing America” is about someone who is claiming his American identity and social and civil rights. He is a  black American who expresses his condition as a slave at a white man’s house and hopes that sometime in the future he will be able to _ sit at the same table with the white guests at his master’s house. This poem was published in 1945, a decade before the Civil Rights Movement started in America. The Civil Right Movement was aimed at ending racial segregation and discrimination between the Negroes and the white Americans and winning constitutional rights for voting for black people. About 100 years after the. Emancipation Proclamation, the African Americans were living in a sordid world of disenfranchisement, segregation, suppression and oppression, and racial violence. This poem “I, Too, Sing America” embodies the poet’s anti-racialist attitude in a highly poetic form. 

The “Harlem” poem reminds the readers of the Harlem Renaissance, otherwise known as the New Negro Movement which took place in the 1920s for the realization of black Americans’ equal rights with whites. It also anticipates the famous speech named “T have a dream”, by Martin Luther King, Jr. a decade later. Thus, in the above poems, we find many traces of Hughes’ anticapitalistic attitude. {n many other poems of Hughes such traces are also discernible.

What is racism or racialism?


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