Hello again, friends! 

For those of you who didn’t read my first blog, my name is Alicia Schubert, and I’m the poetry co-editor for Opus. Today I traveled to Grand Haven to attend the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance Summit on Race and Inclusion along with over seven hundred other students, educators, businesspeople, non-profit workers, and faith leaders. The theme of the summit was “Moving Beyond Bias,” and in honor of that, today’s blog will focus on poetry as a tool for racial justice. As a budding poet with a passion for social justice, one writer who speaks to my soul is Langston Hughes. Hughes was a 20th-century African-American poet and social activist who wrote about racial justice, among other topics. You might have read some of his poems, such as “April Rain Song,” in elementary or middle school. Today I want to share “I, Too, Sing America” with you, a poem with links to Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing.” “I, Too, Sing America” was published in 1945, 10 years before the start of the Civil Rights Movement.

“I, Too, Sing America”

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.

In “I, Too, Sing America,” Hughes envisions a country in which racial equity has been achieved, a country in which black and whites sit together at the table and eat with one another as brothers and sisters. Although the United States has made progress toward Hughes’ vision of racial equity, we have not reached the finish line yet. This poem inspires me to keep working toward a just society, both through poetry and through my interactions with others. I hope his words inspire you to keep fighting the good fight, too.

Love,
Alicia

P.S. As an added bonus, I give you rhyming Thomas Jefferson. Enjoy. J

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