LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN – LANGSTON HUGHES

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

LANGSTON HUGHES

Langston Hughes | Biography & Facts | Britannica
Langston Hughes; picture credits: Britannica

To my mind, it is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering ‘I want to be white,’ hidden in the aspirations of his people, to ‘Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro—and beautiful!’

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Brief Biography of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes, born James Mercer Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin Missouri. He is an American poet that is most known as the central figure in the Harlem Renaissance—an intellectual, artistic, and cultural explosion of African American that took place in Harlem, New York. Hughes sought to portray the joys and hardships of working-class black lives, avoiding the idealization and negative stereotypes that it typically connotes to.

ODE TO THE ONLY BLACK KID IN THE CLASS – CLINT SMITH III

You, it seems,
are the manifestion
of several lifetimes
of toil. Brown v. Board
in the flesh. Most days
the classroom feels 
like an antechamber. 
You are deemed expert
on all things Morrison,
King, Malcolm, Rosa. 
Hell, weren't you sitting 
on that bus, too?
You are everybody's 
best friend 
until you are not. 
Hip-hop lyricologist. 
Presumed athlete. 
Free & Reduced sideshow. 
Exception & caricature.
Too black & too white
all at once. If you are successful
it is because of affirmative action. 
If you fail it is because
you were destined to. 
You are invisible until 
they turn on the Friday
night lights. Here you are —
star before they render
you asteroid. Before they
watch you turn to dust. 

An Update

Hi everybody!

If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been as active as I usually am on this blog. This is because my school has started back up again, and I am swamped with homework and deadlines. However, I will make it my mission to have one post up each week! My posting date will be Wednesday at 3 p.m. If you have any requests for topics, please leave them in the comments!

If you want to explore more about Black History and Literature, click here to access a google drive full of documents covering topics from Afrofuturism to Black Feminism!

CUT THE STRAPS OFF YOUR MASK

With the ongoing pandemic, you should be wearing a face mask. However, if you are using disposable face masks, please cut the straps off your face mask and properly dispose of them! Do not leave any PPE on the ground as this is littering! Also, if you can, please do not dispose of your mask in any outdoor trash cans as it can be blown into nature. Leaving your face mask in nature can harm animals. In the tweet above, employees of a car dealership had seen a young gull trying to walk with a face mask tied and twisted around its legs. Because of the face mask, it could not walk and its joints were swollen and sore.

Save an animal’s life, cut the straps off your mask!

There will never be a new world order unless women are a part of it.

Alice Paul

Alice Paul | National Women's History Museum
Alice Paul: women’s rights activist, suffragist, feminist

Today, August 18th, marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. The 19th amendment represents the fight and protests that suffragettes put up against men in order for their voice to be heard. It represents almost a century long struggle. The 19th amendment guarantees women the right to vote.

Edit August 20:

It was recently brought to my attention that this amendment wasn’t inclusive for all women. The 19th amendment marks the United States’ allowance for white women to vote. Up until 1924, Native Americans weren’t considered citizens of the United States. Along with that, they also didn’t have voting rights until 1924. Also, it wasn’t until 1965 that Black people got the right to vote under the Voting Rights Act signed by former President Lyndon B. Johnson. I apologize for not knowing all of the details before I posted this. As a blog, I aim to inform myself, so I am able to inform all of you guys. I have attached a link to a pdf that has a useful timeline of voting in America. If it can’t pop up for any reason, I have included the URL here.

WHY CAN’T WE SUE THE POLICE?

Constantly, we see news articles of members of the police force doing illegal acts and committing crimes, yet they are never persecuted and charged. This is because of Qualified Immunity. Qualified Immunity is a legal doctrine that makes it difficult and almost impossible to hold police officers accountable for crimes.

So, what does it do?

“Qualified Immunity is a judicially created doctrine that shields government officials from being held personally liable for constitutional violations-like the right to be free from excessive police force- for money damages under federal law so long as the officials did not violate “clearly established” law. To determine if the law was “clearly established,” the court turns to an already existing judicial decision with similar facts. As a result, says Julian Sanchez, during the first time around, “the right violated won’t be ‘clearly established,’ and the official that was responsible will have qualified immunity. This means that the initial person will not have any say because of qualified immunity and that the officer will only be charged if that instance would happen again. HOWEVER, during courts, one can allege any sort of difference between the current case and the past case. One of the differences that was used in court was the numeric distance between the police officer and the victim. Another was the location of the crime. Therefore, since there hadn’t been a “clearly established” law, the police officer would be protected by qualified immunity.

The Supreme Court invented qualified immunity in 1967. They described it as a modest exception for public officials who acted in “good faith” and believed that their conduct was authorized by law. So, in the case of a court, if the police officer can convince the judge that he had been acting with “good intentions,” he or she would not suffer any consequences.

An example of a case of qualified immunity took place during April 2013. “Police officers in Texas responded to a dispatch describing a Black man in a brown shirt, who was firing his gun at mailboxes in a residential neighborhood. When the officers arrived, the man fired his gun in their direction and then hid himself from view. The officers set up a defensive position behind three vehicles and began ordering the man to put his gun down. A few minutes later, the officers saw Gabriel Winzer, a mentally impaired 25-year-old riding a bicycle, wearing a blue shirt, and carrying a toy gun in his belt. Within six seconds of spotting him, the officers shot at Winzer 17 times, chased him down, and tased him. He died at the scene. The officers later claimed that they shot Winzer because they feared for their lives.

As in Brooks’s case, a federal appeals court concluded that the officers violated Winzer’s constitutional rights by using deadly force against him when he posed no threat to anyone. But nonetheless, according to the court, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. To support that conclusion, the court offered one meager sentence of analysis: “We cannot conclude that Gabriel’s right to be free from excessive force was clearly established here.””

For more information about qualified immunity, I will be attaching some links and a helpful video. To help abolish qualified immunity, please sign this petition. Additionally, please support the Ending Qualified Immunity Act, proposed by Justin Amash (L-Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts). When Amash announced the bill, he explained:

“This week, I am introducing the Ending Qualified Immunity Act to eliminate qualified immunity and restore Americans’ ability to obtain relief when police officers violate their constitutionally secured rights. The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is merely the latest in a long line of incidents of egregious police misconduct. This pattern continues because police are legally, politically, and culturally insulated from consequences for violating the rights of the people whom they have sworn to serve. That must change so that these incidents of brutality stop happening.”

LINKS:

https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-police-immunity-scotus/

Originally published July 15