@Parent / Pound Ridge
What exactly is wrong with this poem? On face nothing. But if you dig a little deeper, pretty much everything.
I believe that this particular poem was chosen to advance the political agenda of FLHS teacher, Mr. David Albano. Mr. Albano often posits a stance which is markedly liberal. Of course he is entitled to any belief he wishes, but his jurisdiction over indoctrinating his class with his political beliefs ends at the entrance of Fox Lane High School.
This poem is about the concept of white privilege, a controversial, sociological construct which Mr. Albano seems to support. It would appear that the author of this poem does so as well.
Okay, so let’s say, for the sake of argument that this poem was chosen for discussion value, and not for the advancement of any political agenda.
So where is the flip side of the discussion? Even the thinnest of tortillas has two sides.
You mention that it happens to be February, which is no doubt a reference to February being Black History Month. So how come a poem was chosen from a white author, as opposed to a black one?
Langston Hughes was perhaps one of the most prolific poets of the 20th century. He was the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, an artistic movement in the 1920’s, which examined and honored the culture and experience of African Americans at that time. He continued to write prolifically on such issues until his death in 1967. His poems are wonderful. (1)
Here is what Hughes wrote in 1926, in a piece entitled, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”:
One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet–not a Negro poet,” meaning, 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.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. 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 (2)
I can only imagine the incredible class discussions that would jump forth from an examination of the work of Langston Hughes—a discussion examining both sides of an issue, free of agenda and indoctrination. Isn’t that what an education is supposed to be?
Bedford Hills, NY