The United States is a melting pot. We don’t have “culture” of our own — or so some say — not because we haven’t built a wonderful country, but because we’ve assimilated the cultures of all our combined peoples. We’ve assimilated their foods, their interests, their art, and everything else. But for some reason not all of us understand that our diversity is what makes us stronger. It’s what gives us that little extra something that other countries lack.
And because of that, discrimination against minorities is alive and well in America. If anything, the last four years have ensured that the friction between our minority and majority communities is more dangerous than ever. Attacks against minorities are on the rise. And that’s why we feel it’s time to enjoy some of the poems that explore the American dream — from a minority’s point of view.
Langston Hughes provided us with a wonderful poetic vision of his American dream. A compilation called The Dream Keeper and Other Poems gave us great insight. He wrote:
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes […].
I’ll sit at the table
When company comes. […]
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed —
I, too, sing America.
The lines express a semblance of camaraderie between those who feel like outcasts and everyone else — even if some people pretend not to see it. Langston writes as an American like anyone else, and challenges those who are prejudiced to take a good look and see if they can say he isn’t really beautiful.
“Not a Movie” shows the struggle that African Americans once endured when trying to vote. Sadly, that struggle is echoed today in the GOP’s use of voter suppression.
Well, they rocked him with road-apples
Because he tried to vote
and whipped his head with clubs
and he crawled on his knees to his house
and he got the midnight train
and he crossed that Dixie line
now he’s livin’
on a 133rd.
[…] And there ain’t no Ku Klux
On a 133rd.
Other minorities express similar struggles through poetry. A group of Muslim American girls wrote “American Dream” and “Welcome” to show what their parents expected when immigrating. This is “Chameleon,” written in part by 15-year-old Lena Ginawi.
We will never be white only pretend to be. We hide behind big mirrors and lies unsure of who we really are.
African American or the other way around? Pakistani first, American?,” they say.
“Tears roll off our face. The droplets form a perfectly curved rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, which one am I?” they say voices rising.
“Which one are we. Maybe we’re a mix. Maybe we are many. A combination of colors … Maybe we are one.”
Theirs is a story so many share: that of a marginalized community trying to fit in just like everyone else.