Poem Analysis: Hey Black Child By Useni Perkins

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The Harlem Renaissance was a time of empowerment and cultural growth for African Americans and this is reflected in the literature form that era. In the empowering poem, “Hey Black Child” by Useni Perkins the speaker explores the idea of self-empowerment in order to promote the idea of cultural advancement. Perkins uses repetition to convey the message that if young black children remain hopeful and remember that they matter and they can acquire achievement through dedication and education they can overcome past struggles and build a better future. The author Useni Perkins grew up during the end of the Harlem Renaissance period. Perkins growing up in this time coupled with his exposure to the arts at a young age would influence his later works. Much of Useni’s work is influenced by his childhood in the Projects of Chicago. Perkins used these experiences to create literature that would empower others who have grown up in a similar way (Makers). In the last stanza of the poem “Hey Black Child, Be what you can be, Learn what you must learn, Do what you can do, and tomorrow your nation will be what you what you want it to be” the speaker is telling the audience that if they work hard and apply themselves that there future will be bright. Useni Perkins uses poetic …show more content…
Many authors used their literature to encourage their audience to educate themselves on their cultural history. Other authors used their works as message of empowerment and unity to the African American community (Jackson). Perkins “Hey Black Child” uses both of these common themes first asking the audience “Hey Black Child, Do you know who you are? Who you really are?” The speaker is asking does the audience know who they are as African Americans, or do they just know what society says about them. Perkins also encourages his audience to break free of this mold and discover themselves

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