Langston Hughes: The Black Man Speaks

I swear to the Lord
I still can’t see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.

“The Black Man Speaks” from Jim Crow’s Last Stand (Worldcat)

To say I’ve been feeling this acutely over the last few weeks is an understatement. I honestly think I’ve felt this way almost as long as I’ve been alive, but the feelings grow sharper the longer I live in Vancouver.

Today is Langston Hughes’ birthday. Hughes has long been one of my favourite poets/cultural critics, though I feel like he’s fallen out of favour a little over the last 20 years or so. Though he is better known as a poet, his essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” has been a source of inspiration for me, more so when I was a young African American Studies scholar who was trying to balance claiming my place in the Black community with my feminist leanings and my queer identity.

If you find yourself in a despairing place, read a little Langston Hughes today.

Published by Cecily Walker

Cecily is a mid-management, mid-career library professional who works on community digital initiatives. She's spoken at library and design conferences in Canada and the United States, and is interested in equity, justice, and the intersection of critical race, gender, and sexuality theory and librarianship. When she's not being a humourless feminist, you can find her holding court on Twitter or riding a Vespa around town where she entertains fantasies of being Batgirl.