Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Racial Mountain

After reading Langston Hughes' manifesto for the Harlem Renaissance, please respond to the following questions with thoughtful analysis and use textual reference to support your assertions.

1. What is Hughes' main argument about one's culture and heritage, and do you agree?
2. What is the racial mountain he refers to? Comment on Hughes' thesis in this essay?

DO NOT merely repeat what someone else has written. You need to read, analyze and speak for yourself.

15 comments:

  1. Hughes argues that the American standard is not the way that all cultures should live. Hughes believes that the American Dream is for the boring, non-quintessential, rich household. He says that if African Americans try to achieve that dream, they would have to give up their traditions and voice. He wants black heritage to shine and break through the everyday ‘white’ noise. Hughes also says they need to recognize their own artists and appreciate before the white recording companies discover them and make them famous. Hughes writes, “I understand the Charles Gilpin acted for years in Negro theaters without and special acclaim from his own, bur when Broadway gave him eight curtain calls, Negroes, too, began to beat a tin pan in his honor.” Black artist need to use their artistic skills to express the black voice in a positive light, and not how white people want to perceive them. Hughes says that white people, when looking for a black artist say, “‘be stereotyped, don’t go too far, don’t shatter our illusions about you, don’t amuse us too seriously.’” The black artist will only succeed if they know their past and history. In his essay, Hughes says that the poorer and closer to the ‘black world,’ only then will they be a true artist. One interesting point that he makes is that a middle-class black family, who are constantly trying to be as ‘white’ as possible, will have a harder time becoming a great artist or poet. Because they constantly are not thinking about being more ‘black,’ that means that they are trying to achieve something that will take them in the opposite direction. I would agree that to be a great creator of art, whether its music or photography or a painting, you have to be yourself and accept who you are and where you came from before you can create. You cannot put your heart and soul into something when you are trying to run away from you heart and soul.
    He makes this comparison by using a mountain as a metaphor. Hughes says that the bigger the “racial mountain,” the harder it will be for a black man to rise up and conquer all their struggles. Hughes also says that the closer one is to being white, the bigger the mountain for them. If you read white magazines, go to mixed schools, work for or with white people, and have a good amount of money, then it is easy to see, “immediately how difficult it would be for an artist born in such a home to interest himself in interpreting the beauty of his own people.” The metaphor for the mountain is full of depth because of how far Hughes takes it. This mountain is not just dividing black people from their potential and dreams, but he also says that it is dividing the artist from, “himself and his people.” The racial mountain is also isolating black men and women who want to be white from their past and heritage. Another path up the mountain is of the black artists who do want to perform and achieve greatness. And they do. Except that no one notices, neither black nor white. As I said in the previous paragraph, to be heard or detected in the world, the white people have to notice them. Hughes thesis in this essay is very pointed and not sugarcoated at all. He also does not say that it is the wrong thing to do, become more “American” and less individual. Hughes simply has an ironic and sour tone when he makes this statement. He had just finished talking about how the aspiring artist who wanted to be white would never become a great artist. This technique allows for the reader to see that he does not believe that the unique and individual black man should become “American” by giving up his identity as colored.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hughes, at the surface level, is saying that black artists should be proud of their heritage, regardless of adversity: "If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful." He is disgusted with the apathy of his own people towards their heritage, noting, "For racial culture the home of a self-styled 'high-class' Negro has nothing better to offer. Instead there will be perhaps more aping of things white than in a less cultured or less wealthy home."

    What strikes me the most about this is Hughes is scolding the middle class blacks. He sees that life as too dull for his people and that poverty brings forth his peoples' culture. He goes on to assert, "But then there are the low-down folks, the so-called common element, and they are the majority--may the Lord be praised!" He seems to enjoy that his people are impoverished. Maybe I am missing something, but this seems absolutely ridiculous. I understand that he doesn't want his people to be homogenized by white culture, but when he asserts that white culture is the same as being successful, he is crossing a line.

    Black Americans shouldn't be afraid to be wealthy merely because they don't want to be seen as striving to be white. What is wrong with a successful black businessman? Hughes doesn't want the country to be colorblind; he wants his people to self-segregate based on his new-found stigma. His opening anecdote tells of when he got frustrated that a peer of his wanted to be seen as a poet, rather than a black poet. Pride in one’s heritage is something I can understand, but when that pride becomes detrimental, it is a problem.

    What Hughes’ failed to recognize is that success is not mutually exclusive. One does not have to be white to start a business; a successful businessman does not have to be white. I really do respect black literature and art, but this notion that success is betrayal is a step too far.

    The racial mountain to which he refers symbolizes black Americans’ history. He refers to “building temples for tomorrow, best we know how,” on top of his “racial mountain.” Hughes wants to build black culture from atop what is already there, rather than assimilating to white culture. Hughes uses the metaphor of a mountain building towards the sky, drawing that his peoples’ history is but a stepping stone from which to build.

    Hughes’ thesis is as follows: “But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.” His thesis is solid, though charged with radical beliefs. The thesis itself lays a decent outline for the rest of his essay, telling exactly what he will be covering. However, Hughes details very clearly that he resents being American, causing the word to take on a connotation that means “white.” Here, he is fighting his nationality on account of his ethnicity, two labels that are not inherently opposed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Throughout this article, Hughes is trying to explain his views about the desires of “the negro race.” Langston Hughes talks about how his race is obsessed with being looked at as somewhat white. In the beginning of the essay there is a poet talking about wanting to be able to “write like a white poet.” Hughes says he pities this man. He argues that there is no/ not enough pride in the black culture. Hughes explains how the only way black people are recognized or considered a success is if they are seen in the white world. Instead of focusing on impressing the white people, he urges the black people to have pride in their culture instead of trying to “fit into the molds of American standardization.” I agree with Langston Hughes’s perspective on this. People should fight to be a success, not fight to be seen as something that they weren’t.
    I personally saw the “mountain” as the white culture. It was always above the black culture and it cast a shadow upon the less superior race. Many of the black people tried to see themselves as white and try to climb the mountain but it literally was an uphill battle. I think the mountain is something that blocked the black people from seeing the beauty and value of their race because all they could see was what was above them. Throughout the essay Langston Hughes tries to rectify (vocab word!) the importance of their own culture. Hughes’s thesis explained how the Negros wanted to appear as little Negro as possible and they just wanted to fit into the molds set by being American. By changing themselves they lost sight of their individuality and beauty.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hughes argues through the "Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain", that black individuals should embrace their cultural background and mold it into their own unique style that shows their pride for their African heritage. “…jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul--the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.” Jazz is a genre of music descended from black artists and their culture, and a symbol of their pride for their history. In this quote, the metaphor of the eternal tom-tom can be translated to the determination and strength that jazz lends them to ascend the rough staircase of life. The jazz genre that the black artist creates is a representation of the drive and hope that embodied their descendants dream for freedom. “Let the blare of Negro jazz bands and the bellowing voice of Bessie Smith singing Blues penetrate the closed ears of the colored near-intellectuals until they listen and perhaps understand. Let Paul Robeson singing Water Boy, and Rudolph Fisher writing about the streets of Harlem, and Jean Toomer holding the heart of Georgia in his hands, and Aaron Douglas drawing strange black fantasies cause the smug Negro middle class to turn from their white, respectable, ordinary books and papers to catch a glimmer of their own beauty.” Hughes explains how the “smug Negro middle class” don’t embrace their background, and instead try to be white. Instead they should look away from the white influence and instead look at how beautiful their culture and heritage is.
    I agree with Hughes message that people should embrace their background and feel pride for their heritage. A phrase that has been used during the era of jazz and blues has been that “someone has soul”. Soul in my opinion is the manifestation of all that your ancestors have endured, joy, happiness, despair, lost, bottled into one individual. I feel that without the knowledge and acceptance of one’s heritage then they have no true soul. Instead it is replaced with conformity and trying to be similar to the majority. Cultural pride is important as it emphasizes on your history, which helps guide you in the future.
    In my opinion the racial mountain is the perspective of the black people through the white person’s eyes. “Yet the Philadelphia clubwoman is ashamed to say that her race created it and she does not like me to write about it. The old subconscious "white is best" runs through her mind.” This shows that even the black people see themselves through the eyes of the white person. The racial mountain is the road that stands in the artists way because of the thought that black people aren’t good enough to stand with the whites, because “white is best.”
    Hughes’ thesis I felt was very sharp and straight to the point. “This urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.” He expressed his sadness for how black people wanted to be like the white man. The whole essay at any point always referred to the thesis and that built upon the idea of white culture in contrast with black culture. He shows how the black man try to as much American as possible, yet he should embrace himself and his culture, because, “… (he is) a Negro--and beautiful!"

    ReplyDelete
  5. Langston Hughes argues that the Negro race should be proud of their heritage, rather than look disgustingly down upon it. In one passage, Hughes writes from a Negro child’s perspective, symbolizing the races desire to become a typical American—a white American. In the passage, the boy looks down upon his individual talents and skills because they are not accepted by the white community. Although this boy has just as much skill as any white man, society’s standards and stereotypes make it hard for him and others of his race to recognize the true beauty of his work. Hughes expresses that the world of the white man aids to the white man and the Negro man is put on the back burner, and this is the barrier they need to break through. In the essay, Hughes works to urge his race to not give into these stereotypes and rules that determine what is right and what is wrong. He encourages them to express their ideas, feelings, and opinions in order to build a confidence within their community. He states that they can make a difference, but only if they have the confidence in themselves to do so. I agree with Hughes overall statement that one must, “accept what beauty is their own without question.” I believe that life is what you make it. You can look at the people who are better, smarter, and stronger than you and feel sad and defeated, or you can choose to look at yourself and notice all the truly great things that you can bring to the world. You can’t let society’s standards judge who you are or who you aspire to be. Each culture, race, and person has their own unique qualities that can be introduced, and by denying yourself the truth of your own beauty, you are also denying the world the opportunity to see this beauty flourish.
    The racial mountain the Hughes refers to is the desire of the Negro race to mold into societies standards in the hopes to be accepted by the majority, rather than celebrating the differences of their minority.. Hughes refers to the poet boy and states that, “And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet.” Hughes is trying to express that when a race runs away from themselves and tries to fit into a mold not made for them, they have nothing to offer. When they are constantly being mocked by the mountain of racial injustice, it makes it hard for them to see what is in front of them and what they are already holding in their hands. And until the Negro race can learn to confidently identify themselves with their own music, traditions, ideas, and talents the Racial Mountain will never be conquered.

    ReplyDelete
  6. 1. Hughes’ main argument was that one needs to be proud of their culture and everything that their culture brings to the table. I do agree with this statement. Everyone’s culture introduces new and useful qualities. Should one be submissive towards those qualities? No, but some qualities can connect with races that are stereotypical and generalized. Hughes talks about a Black poet that did not want to be known as a ‘Negro poet’ but rather a ‘poet’. Hughes interpreted this as the man wanting to be a white poet and write and act as a white man does, “I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet”; meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.”” I interpreted this as not wanting to be helped back by what stereotypes where put on black men at that time. This man, in my eyes, wants to be able to be free with his poems and not be generalized. Culture can be a big part of anyone’s lives but culture can sometimes act as a barrier. Breaking through the barrier could result in a small loss of culture.

    2. I saw the racial mountain as the barrier between whites and blacks during this time period. In order to be fully accepted as an American some from the black race deemed it necessary to act as the whites did. They need to climb the other side of the mountain. One side of the mountain being the Blacks and the other being the stereotypical Americans (or the whites). Hughes’ saw this climb starting to tear down the black culture. Black people could not find the part of the mountain that faced both the Black and White side. Was there a trail that led to this side or did you ever have to climb the mountain? The Black people were being sucked into the stereotypes being set on American’s creating this mountain upon themselves. Hughes’ believed that there was path that would allow the Black person to be American with acting White and his thesis directly stated this. In his first paragraph Hughes’ writes about a Black poet who just wanted to be known as a poet. Hughes’ wanted him to stand up for the Black culture. Hughes’ did not try to sugarcoat his thesis but rather told it plainly and how it is. This gave a clear direction for the article and guided the reader through his piece.

    Did the Whites and the Blacks need to find the side of the mountain that faced both sides? Do we still need to today?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Langston Hughes main argument throughout, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" is that black people should take great pride in their heritage and roots. Become as little white as you can be. I agree with Hughes on this subject to a point. Heritage is an important aspect of everybody's life but it shouldn't determine everything about them. Such as Hughes' desire for everyone one to specify 'Negro' with all parts of their life. A 'Negro poet' and so on. When segregation and discrimination was at such a bad point in American history I can understand where he is coming from. However, racism goes both ways. When I think of racism I think of the majority against the minorities. It also goes in the reverse. If the African Americans really wanted to be equal, then don't be the 'Negro Poet', be the poet.

    The Racial Mountain Hughes is referring two is the great divider between the white life and the black life. I believe he calls it a mountain because mountains are enormous, hard to cross over, and can't be moved. Nor can they really be destroyed. In this time in our history (as we all know) racism and discrimination was at a peak. I don't think Hughes saw a way around this mountain so he tried to convince his fellow African American's to strengthen and fortify their side of the mountain. Not to make any attempt to cross the mound at all. This thinking probably came because at the time, this mountain seemed indestructible. But as time moved on, the mountain was slowly chipped away and now racism and discrimination aren't nearly as prevalent.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I believe that Langston Hughes' main argument was that we should all be accepting of who we are and of those around us. The point he made from this was that everyone should have a chance to be heard and understood and no one should be shut out as the African Americans were during the times of slavery. Hughes tells us that people should embrace who they are and where they come from. By saying, "He is taught rather not to see it, or if he does, to be ashamed of it when it is not according to Caucasian patterns" (pg. 1), it tells of how many are taught what they believe though elders, the bible or rather the media around us. Hence the importance of being able to accept yourself and others for who they are and allow your mind to change. This connects to how the African Americans need to accept who they are in order to be strong (strong poet for example) and allow themselves to make a difference in the world around them. I do agree with what Langston Hughes points out about accepting your culture, your past. I agree with him because in the last paragraph he tells of how we need to free ourselves, live without fear and shame. The importance of this lies in how the two (fear and shame) can defeat us and not allow us to reach full potential and make the most impact on the society around us.

    The Racial Mountain tells a lot of how the African Americans believed the idea that Whites were more superior to them. The African Americans longed to be like Whites but they didn't notice the talent they contain. Langston Hughes symbolizes this mountain to one that is difficult to cross over and takes endurance and risk. The mountain symbolizes the restrictions that the African Americans felt when they dreamt of doing something. The mountain held them back from achieving the dreams they had and resulted in the way society treats African Americans to stay the same. He also uses the mountain to act as a explanation of how the Whites stood in the way of many dreams and discouraged the African Americans from pursuing them. Hughes tells in his writing how many stayed away from how African Americans live their lives and even some of their own despised being African American and wished otherwise. The main thesis that Hughes had was to accept your culture and be willing to fight/defend it if ever necessary.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Langston Hughes argues in "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" that the general want and expectations of society pushes outliers to believe what main society believes; but the goal he stresses is to break through the general wants and expectations and live up to your own standards and love your own heritage. In the writing, Hughes discusses how Negro families grow up with white magazines, white papers, and people constantly telling them they aren't worthy. Hughes also explains the parenting diction when a child of their own does something wrong. For example, he states: "And the mother often says, 'don't be like niggers' when the children are bad. A frequent phrase from the father is, 'Look how well a white man does things.'" These two points that Hughes makes tie together because the Negro society has grown up with the media and people telling them who they should be and how they should live. The Negro's then started to believe it and began raising their kids the way the media and society expected them to. Hughes clearly gets his point across that he believes you should embrace your heritage. Hughes becomes upset when a Negro boy with aspirations to become a poet discusses how he wishes to not be a Negro poet- but a white poet instead. Despite what society says Negro's should live, Hughes believes that everyone should embrace themselves and love who they are and where they are from.

    The racial mountain that Hughes uses as a metaphor is a block between Negro society and white society. There is this huge mountain that stops connections between the two races causing them to conflict. Hughes' thesis; "But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America- this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible." This sentence demonstrates his anger towards transforming Negros to white. The term "melting pot" used to describe America comes to mind when reading this sentence. Referring to America as the melting pot makes no sense. Although many different races are coming together, they are all eventually created into the same "type of cheese." And if their are outliers that do not fit into the cheese, they are highly frowned upon. The melting pot is American standardization. Hughes' thesis starts off the paper nicely by getting his readers to think about ideas like the "giant melting pot" and get the readers involved.

    ReplyDelete
  10. In "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" by Langston Hughes the main idea about culture is that one must not conform to what is around him, but must accept what he is. Hughes talks about the rich black people saying “they have at least two cars and a house ‘like white folks’”. Here the reader can almost hear his disgust with the black people who strive to be like whites. He believes that you should not wish to change and love what you are. Whatever race you belong to it has a past, and each person should share the moments of triumph that their ancestors had. Why should one strive to be like others when they have so much to be proud of themselves? I agree with this idea. People should not have to change to feel like they fit in. Every individual should be just that, an individual. If we all loved who we were and didn’t care who others were, the world would be better and there would be less tension between people with differences. Love your human brother simply because he is himself and not because he is who you want him to be.
    The racial Mountain that Hughes mentions is a metaphor that symbolizes the whites trying to repress them and their culture. His thesis states that blacks need to be proud of what they are, and not “be as little Negro and as much American as possible”. The blacks by themselves are great. They don’t need to be white or “American” or anything other than black. They are perfect the way they are.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In Langston Hughes’ “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” his main message is trying to get black people to accept their heritage. In one passage Hughes says, “I would like to be a white poet"; meaning behind that, "I would like to be white." And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.” Hughes wants the Negroes to accept who they and not wish to be different. He also says that if you don’t believe in yourself as a Negro you will never achieve what you want to. He uses an example of a black poet that won’t become a poet because he wishes he was a white one. Hughes also talks about the difference between the classes of the Negroes. He shows that the lower class Negroes represent the race better because they aren’t worried what the white people think, they just want to live their lives. Lower class Negroes just live, “Their religion soars to a shout. Work maybe a little today, rest a little tomorrow. Play awhile. Sing awhile. O, let's dance!” They just kick back and live their life without constantly worrying about the white people. They are carrying the name of the Negroes on and showing their character. The upper classes of the Negroes are different as Hughes states they tried to be more like the whites and force their families to behave like them. Hughes argues that they don’t represent the Negroes as they are almost giving in to the hierarchy of the whites. The whites want them to give in because then the whites will still know they are superior. The middle class Negroes want the white people to accept them for who they can be like instead of trying to be accepted for who they should be.

    I agree with Hughes’ argument because Negroes should show their true character instead of trying to mimic the way the whites live their lives. I like the attitude of the lower class; to me they think like they want to be equal, but aren’t too worried about respect from the whites. By showing your true character it allows issues to be solved more sufficiently. Once the 60’s came around, Martin Luther King Jr. messaged the black people to show their true character and class, which Hughes wants. He did that with non-violence, he implied that violence shows our weakness, so we will protest in a more refined way, and it worked.

    The racial mountain refers to an extended metaphor that ultimately shows the barrier between the blacks and the whites. I saw it as a barrier for blacks to show their true heritage. In one passage Hughes says, “But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.” Hughes is saying that the mountain in the way stops Negroes from showing their character, with the mountain they can’t show the white people what they are all about. He shows his rage because the mountain in the way causes Negroes to want to become more like white people. He is also saying the road is difficult and, “The road for the serious black artist, then, who would produce a racial art is most certainly rocky and the mountain is high.” He is showing that it takes a lot for a Negro to summit the mountain as it is rocky and high. He also infers that there isn’t an end, just because the mountain is treacherous doesn’t mean it can’t be summited. His thesis was very strong and showed his stance on what he is arguing. He immediately got the reader on his side of the argument even before he breaks his points down. I like how his points provide good arguments, such as the races in America don’t follow our motto of unity and how black people should show their own heritage instead of trying to adopt the whites’.

    ReplyDelete
  12. In "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" Hughes talks about how many black artists wished that they were white so that they could have a better shot at making it. These sentiments were not coming from small time artists but the most likely to succeed a well. An example of this comes in his first sentence, "One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once,'I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet'.". Hughes says that this is the exact opposite of what people should be feeling. He says that people should be proud of who and what they are. He acknowledges that there will be more challenges in the face of a black artist, "One sees immediatley how difficult it would be for an artist born in such a home to interest himself in the beauty of his own people." I think that by saying this he says that once you make it to the top it is that much more worth it. That once the journey is complete you can look back and be happy based on your accomplishments.
    The mountain he refers to is a metaphor to the prejudice that affected black people every day. Many white people thought that black people were capapble of no real accomplishments because of their color. Hughes says that the hardest part isn't having skill or talent as an artist but getting people to accept you for who you are. In his thesis he says thar people want to be "...as little Negro and as much American as possible." Many blacks thought they would have to change who they were to get the American Dream. However, I think that Hughes was saying what is more American than working your way up from the bottom and coming out on top?

    ReplyDelete
  13. In this article, Hughes makes his point clear that accepting one’s race essential for a unique self-identity. The overall message and voice that I heard from Hughes was “Why continue trying to be like another culture that will never accept you as equal? Why do you continue to strive to be someone you are not? Your race is beautiful; accept yourself for the way you are.” Hughes portrayed the “white American” culture and the “high-class Negro” culture as the politically correct, colorless approach to life. He says that members of black society reject their culture for that of whites: “He is never taught to see that beauty. He is taught rather not to see it, or if he does, to be ashamed of it when it is not according to Caucasian patters.” “Why should I want to be white? I am Negro—and beautiful!” My question is this: who induced this train of thought, whites or blacks? Was it whites, stubbornly fettering blacks to their place in society, or was it blacks, feeling like they had to live up to a higher, more sophisticated culture? In the end, both attitudes culminated in this black self-portrayal that Hughes condemns. In the end, blacks who limited themselves to imitating white culture never reached their true potential; only the ones who climbed the racial mountain ever truly found self-identity and inner peace that dovetail with their skin tone. I agree with Hughes’ argument that accepting one’s culture and heritage is essential to self-discovery and reaching the highest potential.
    Hughes’ thesis was: “But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America—this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and be as little Negro and as much American as possible.” The racial mountain he refers to is overcoming the barriers of the Negro society who wished to mold into that of American standardization and become the antithesis. Become the blues artist, the writer, painter, poet, or jazz musician. He wishes for his race to rise out of the culture of white America and conquer their culture. “We stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”

    ReplyDelete
  14. In The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain article, Langston Hughes is arguing that racial stereotypes greatly influence Negro poetry negatively. This is because they feel the need to fall into White American standards. As Hughes explained, some Negro poets wish "to be as little Negro and as much American as possible". Unfortunately, this hinders their ability to truly express their life experiences and feelings through poetry, for Langston Hughes claims that "most of my own poems are racial in theme and treatment, derived from the life I know". Hughes argues that Negro artist should be proud of their past and who they are because it is what makes their writing unique. Further more, Hughes claims that "no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself", which means that their race is what gives them a story to tell, so if they are constantly trying to tell their story from a white perspective,the story will never truly be their own.

    The "racial mountain" Hughes describes is the inability for African-Americans to be proud of who they are. As Hughes explains "this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible." These poets feel as though they are inferior to whites, so they must change their art to fit their opinion. Acting as though they are white comes before truly portraying their emotions and experiences. Hughes explains that "they (negro poets) themselves draw a color line". I believe this mountain is formed because of how whites are always perceived as good in comparison to blacks. For "the word white comes to be unconsciously a symbol of all the virtues. It holds for the children beauty, morality, and money." Society furthermore inhibits the Negro poets ability to overcome the "racial mountain" because of how whites are seen as superior. In contrast, these black artist should be thinking, "Why should I want to be white? I am a negro-- and beautiful!" This sense of pride is what makes them unique and Hughes is suggesting that their race is what defines their identity, attempting to act otherwise is only shameful to themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Langston Hughes believes in staying true to one's heritage, and feels sorry for those who are ashamed that they are not in the majority. Despite prejudice, opposition,or racism, everyone should be proud of their race and opinions, instead of trying to fit in. I absolutely agree with Hughes on this point, because I think trying to be something else for the sake of fitting in is cowardly. Don't be afraid to be yourself, for if you are trying to be something else, people will see right through you. Hughes talks to a young poet who wants to be a "regular" poet. By saying this, Hughes believes he subconsciously wants to be white. Hughes believes that they cannot win respect from white people if they are always trying to be like them, which is reinforcing that even the blacks feel that the whites are superior.

    I saw the racial mountain as a symbol for the white people. Hughes says that this mountain cannot be overcome unless the blacks are proud of who they are, and are not afraid to express their culture. If they wish to be like the whites, they are prejudiced against their own people. If the whites see this, they will think that the blacks do not even like themselves, and will only make them feel more superior.

    P.S. Comp- I've had some trouble with blogger before when I've used this account. It will usually put the time as a day before or a day behind instead of the time when I actually post this. I don't know how to fix it, but right now it's 10:13 on Wednesday. Sorry about that!

    ReplyDelete