November 2016 I reviewed Langston Hughes and Bryan Collier’s I, Too, Am America on the blog. I was sad, afraid, and angry.
Yesterday and today, I’ve been FURIOUS, sad, and a bit afraid– mostly for the future, really.
Langston Hughes first published that poem in 1926. There’s a recording of him reading it in 1955. (Listen here.) And now we’re asking, again: What is America? Who is America? Who speaks for us? Who represents us?
Good questions to ask, yes, but. But. Some of the loudest answers we’re getting are representative of the worst elements among us. Langston Hughes told us in 1926: I am America, as are you: We are all America. Yesterday, the insurgents in DC said: We, are, you’re not. We don’t care what you say. Mind your place, don’t be uppity, and don’t speak to your betters.
And the world asked: What is happening to democracy in America?
I was ashamed. I hope you are, too. But don’t say: “this isn’t who we are.” Because, sadly, it really is, and we have to own it, and we have to change that.
I Am America. So are you. Let’s make America better. If you want to get Langston Hughes’s heartrending poem with Bryan Collier’s heartmending illustrations, try it here, from my local book shop: I, Too, Am America