I Too Langston Hughes Analysis

1510 Words 7 Pages
Understanding the Implications of Ethnicity and Cultural Identity

It was actually at my grandmother’s funeral when I first noticed the strange, almost distrustful looks that would be thrown my Uncle Ted’s way. I was sitting alone in the back of the room while my father was making his rounds- everyone thanking him for the beautiful eulogy he gave. My Uncle Ted walked over and gave me a hug. My Uncle Ted is black, from a little island in the Caribbean. As soon as he speaks and his thick Caribbean accent appears, strangers immediately ask him: “Where are you from?” I had not seen him in a while, it seems the only time my family gets together is for funerals and weddings. I never thought of my Uncle Ted as my “black Uncle” but rather the “fun
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Hughes, the quintessential Harlem Renaissance figure in literature, represents a whole new generation of black writers and intellectuals who emerged in this period following slavery and reconstruction. The Harlem Renaissance is a movement that was one of the first occasions for African-Americans to be able to express themselves culturally. At the start of the poem, Hughes claims: “ I, too, sing America” (Hughes 1). Or in other words, Hughes is asserting his right to feel patriotic towards his country, to feel “American” despite being: “ the darker brother” who must “eat in the kitchen/ When company comes” (Hughes 2-4). The latter part is alluding to the segregated, Jim Crow Era in which Hughes lived while writing this. In the last line, he says: “I, too, am America” (Hughes 18). Langston Hughes and many other Harlem Renaissance writers wrote of their cultural identities in a time where “American” was considered undoubtedly synonymous with “white.” The negative connotations and implications associated with “Ethnic” emerge out of the racism and prejudice that exist in this country. Hughes used poetry as a platform to validate his own ethnicity of “American” in hopes of defending himself against prejudice, oppression, and alienating connotations of “other.” The poem “I, Too” represents Hughes’ own defensive, negative experience of having to consider his own cultural identity because of the racism that existed in post-slavery Jim Crow Era

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