This book, Native Son by the author, Richard Wright was published today (Feb 28th) in 1940. So, I grabbed a beer and decides to read this book again. This book is highly recommended for anyone.
Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.
When I read Langston Hughes’s poem called, “Let America Be America Again” few hours ago today, I was really blown away by how he wrote this. Looking back when I took Harlem Renaissance course [part of credits for English majors] as an undergraduate student years ago, I must have missed this because this is exactly what America is being in deep pain right now today thanks to hate-mongers, culture of fear, political hegemony, and the state of Make America great again in the purest white language under Trump’s regime.
It is very dangerous framing, my fellow Deaf folks, when you see the famous phrase, “America the Beautiful”–the most important subject, what does beautiful mean to you? The English language is the most difficult and invisible language in the world. Why is it the most difficult language in the world? Is English part of the pathology of a global culture? Think about how much English literature plays a huge role for money, values, and human lies.
Today, the United States is celebrating its holiday, the Declaration of Independence through series of violence. Emotionally, mentally, and physically. I do not support any kind of hateful violence. America belonged to Native Americans first. When Indian Treaties and the Removal Act of 1830 passed by a racist president, Andrew Jackson–the current 45th supported Jackson and praised for his work few months ago. He is doing to Muslims, people of color, and minorities including Deaf people, too. Yes, Trump does not represent Deaf community, period.
Today, the 45th is making America worse again by breaking the higher education down by robbing the souls of today’s students and the need of democracy. Are we living in illiterate America again? How can we make America be America again without racists, haters, sexists, and all that? Is Deaf community part of illiterate? Of course, there are plenty of Deaf people who are racists, haters and even white supremacists who voted for the 45th.
Deaf community does not need to live in the dark again, hate again, and live in America that is becoming WHITE again. In few hours tonight, when you see fireworks, you will feel the vibration—think about violence that preach hate and racism what fireworks do to Deaf community. Think about all those people who got killed by gun violence and white supremacists. The 45th does not represent the Declaration of Independence tonight. Langston Hughes’s written poem needs to remind all of us. He was a great essayist and social activist.
When you are in District of Columbia, be sure to visit Busboys and Poets and check out the social justice books, great food and excellent drinks, it was in honour for Langston Hughes who was a busboy in a hotel, I believe in Harlem and recognized his poet skills. Pretty cool, huh?
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!
Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.
Folger Shakespeare Library, home of the world’s largest Shakespeare collection in Washington, D.C. from my iPhone. Hint: They do provide ASL interpreters!
Today I am in mood to write about William Shakespeare. He was an icon in English departments worldwide. In my old town, I would ride my old Schwinn road bicycle to attend summer play given by the company that also provides ASL interpreters. It was a blast! I grow to appreciate his writing by taking couple of courses about Shakespeare. 400 years ago, he passed away on his birthday, April 23rd. To begin off with Renaissance Literature, a book I was reading loaded with sonnets, Shakespeare writes in Sonnet XXIX (29):
When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
This sonnet has been always on my mind for a while and it is challenging to analyze what Shakespeare really meant by that. There were so many interpretations in there— Could Shakespeare possibly write this about Deaf people he had seen what they had been going through? There is a valid reason I would think of this because with the first sentence, “when in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”—that carries a picture of subject into the picture. “I all alone beweep my outcast state”—treat Deaf people within outcast state and weep alone.
Then why would Shakespeare have said, “And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries”. I have a hunch feeling that the sonnet was about Deaf people for some reason. As is well known but quickly forgotten, this sonnet might make history. Who knows that Shakespeare was a fierce supporter of Deaf people? Shakespeare became both iconic and historic.
With collective support in English literature which earn him a legend. Again, this sonnet might as well as recognizing marginalized perspectives of Deaf people to light is therefore a revolutionary act of some importance. It can subvert dominant understandings, it might inspire us to raise our voice and support Shakespeare’s sonnet XXIX, and it also forces us to rewrite old histories to include or at least respond to the vision of social oppression today in media.
What if this sonnet had the effect of creating a series of false images about Deaf people? The most important being that the dismissal ignorant in that time period meant the complete collapse of Deaf people. Shakespeare understood the false images of Deaf people that they attempt to had triumph against great odds of the hearing oppressors and had succeed in bringing about linguistic and cultural claims that being Deaf belongs in higher education. It may or not whether it is knock-on effect.
In fact, Deaf people who appreciate Shakespeare’s writing, they are looking out for the ripple effect of the historical sonnet. Personal, social, and cultural rationalizations concerning ourselves as Deaf people and the world around us are Shakespeare’s sonnet XXIX that have to be broken. Again, this sonnet is the greatest mystery.
This is only free-writing. It was fun to do something like this even if I may be incorrect about this sonnet from Shakespeare scholars.
Bought both items from Folger Shakespeare Library shop.
Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only including this copyright message.