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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution II

Chapman, Abraham
Editorial comment: black poetry today,   pp. 401-[410] PDF (9.1 MB)

Page 406

406      More characteristic of Lee's poetry is
"The Hate of Don Lee," which follows, from
his second collection black pride:
at one time,
opened sMall
doors of
(doors called, "the only one"
& "our negro")
after painfully
thru DuBois,
Rogers, Locke,
Wright & others,
my blindness
was vanquished
by pitchblack
paragraphs of
"us, we, me, I"
to love
only a
part of
me -
my inner
self which
is all
developed a
hatred of
my light
If we contrast this with Langston Hughes's
treatment of the mulatto theme we begin to
see some of the ways in which the black
poetry of today differs from the older race-
consciousness and American Negritude.
"Cross" by Langston Hughes opens with
the following quatrain:
My old man's a white old man
And my old mother's black,
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.
There is still an effort to come to terms with
the white father who has rejected his
black son, a hope for some kind of
reconciliation. Another poem by Hughes,
"Mulatto," opens:
I am your Son, White man!
Georgia dusk
And the turpentine woods,
One of the pillars of the temple fell.
You are my son!
Like hell!
And the poem which moves through six
additional stanzas, giving full voice at the
end to the white rejection of the Negro
son and brother, concludes:
I am your son, white man....
Hughes excoriated the rejection by the white
father and brother and counterposed the
demand for the acceptance and recognition
of paternity and kinship by the white
father and brother. The young black
nationalist poets today are far more
estranged and alienated from white America.
We witness a counter-rejection, not only
an embrace of their black selves, but a
repudiation and disavowal of the white
fathers, an acceptance of the separation
from the white fathers and brothers in the
spirit of black independence, of cutting
the ties with those who despise them, in
the spirit of revolt against the pressures
of white society (described earlier by James
Baldwin) to impose its values and views
on black people. The struggle against the
old patterns of dependence on white
America, the struggle for black independence,
recognition of black beauty and values,
black consciousness and the affirmation of
black pride, constitute a central current of
black writing and thinking today, voiced
recurrently in the new poetry. Clarence
Major, a poet and critic, expressed this
viewpoint very clearly in a symposium of
statements on "The Black Poet" in
The Journal of Black Poetry (No. 4):
The black poet confronted with western culture
and civilization must isolate and define
himself in as bold a relief as he can. He
must chop away at the white criterion and
destroy its hold on his black mind because
seeing the world through 'white eyes from a
black soul causes death. . . . The black

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