Black Saga


In the poem “NEGRO,” Langston Hughes uses imagery, role characterization and brutal scenes of black Americans to reveal the injustices and to literarily rebel against the slavery conditions imposed over blacks from Africa to America. The poem’s representation of black American lives is exemplified historically and geographically to prove the ever-existing exploitation and brutality of the Negro people. Langston Hughes’ point of view in the poem is a setting of the historical problem of racism. The poem has a clear message of denunciation when analyzed contextually. The poem denounces the ignored contributions of black men to societies throughout history of men. Hughes also writes about the suffering of blacks and his poem “NEGRO” becomes a representation of people of color and shares a theme of history to express the importance of the Negro people in the history of human civilizations.

The language in the Hughes poem represents black lives and their contributions. The emphasis on their labor for the founding fathers is a reference to their role in the constructing of the United States, “I brushed the boots of Washington” (Stanza #2, P601) and at the same time, Hughes exposes the historical origin of suffering from Africa to Egypt; He describes the black slavery saga from a historical prospective Black Americans suffered the struggles of racial inequality and experienced hardship from their homeland to the new world.  The abuse and atrocities against the Negro described in the poem degenerates romanticism and singles out the equalities of the black race. The true facts of the “NEGRO” poem can easily be changed into cruelty and abuse towards people of color. The suffering of the Negro people expresses human domination and control by other humans with an abusive mental condition against other humans based on the color of skin. Differences of the color of the skin were the justification to oppress.

The situation of dominating societies over the dominated has been an historical reality for people of color since the Egyptians, the Romans, the Spaniards and the Americans. The historical fact of the people of Congo during the Belgium occupation in 1885, “the Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo” (5th Stanza, P601), is an accurate historical reference and proves to be true in the atrocities against blacks. Hughes presents it as a black and white problem. At the same time, Hughes compares the saga of black slavery to the contributions and roles African Americans played in the construction of a nation. The dominion and exploitation becomes an objective of control over slaves, Black slaves became assets for the dominating class; Black talents were ignored and not included “I have been a singer” (stanza #4). Slave were considered less than human.

The imagery characterization of Hughes’ view in his poem “I’m a Negro, I’ve been a slave, I’ve been a worker, I’ve been a singer, I’ve been a victim” (NEGRO P601) is vivid and makes the reader feel the experiences of oppressed people of color dictated by the social, political and economic ambition of a dominant white race. Discrimination is the absolute dominion to control and suppress people of color. Every sentence in Hughes’ poem can be dissected to have an expression of a hard life. Black Americans in the “NEGRO” poem can relate to the experience of marginalization assembled in the poem. The “I’m a Negro” is a denouncement that I’m a human of the black race. Society cannot have race under the crucifixion or under the burning torch of torture. The brutality and genocidal treatment of Black slaves is very much consistent to their history and the suffering of blacks referred to by Langston Hughes’ poem. The poem displays the reality of cruelty against a race.

The bestiality of racism cannot be forgotten. Hughes does not fail to compare these facts through symbolic and simple realism “Black like the depths of Africa” (Stanza six). The black American contribution to society displays and adds more emphasis and power to the message in the “NEGRO” poem. It is a binomial fight of racism between two races. The poem offers a perspective of sentiment against white people’s humanity, the real truth of people’s inequalities.  The world is a multiracial world and the history of slavery and racism sufferings expressed in the “NEGRO” poem is a sad narrative.

The poem is a reminder of a dark past against the Negro “”they lynch me still in Mississippi” (Stanza #5), “I made ragtime” (Stanza #4), “under my hands the pyramids arose” “(Stanza #3, P601). The realistic life experiences in the poem provide examples of what life was for Blacks. Hughes’ ambition to write about the true life experiences of Blacks under slavery and the discrimination they faced after abolition were facts representing the inequalities between the races.

All the Black racial allegories in the poem are historical facts that support and denounce the saga of slavery and at the same time provide a realistic view of human suffering escalated by their color of skin. The images describing human abuses, atrocities and discrimination worsens the white men domination and exploitation over black people. The pain, the humiliation and the deaths were all done to humans by humans. The “NEGRO” poem by Langston Hughes is an example of control over blacks by the distorted minds of a racist dominator bur also it is a confirmation of the historical contributions to civilization by black men during their slavery.