BLACK LIVES MATTER, and never has that truth been expressed more tenderly or more beautifully than in the poetry of Langston Hughes. I read an article about him in the New Yorker last night, how he had come to study at Columbia University, how he lived near campus through much of his life. And yet the school didn’t seem to recognize the genius who lived only blocks away, never gave him an honorary degree until after he was dead.  Black Lives Matter. 

I took down THE DREAM KEEPER, an old volume of Hughes’s poetry then, and read it straight through, reading many poems over and over again. So beautiful, so true. The book is said to be poetry for children, but all of it holds extra special meaning for adults. 

Many of the poems are about the black experience, the pain, the beauty and the joy, but also the hope: 

I too sing America.

I am the darker brother

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh and eat well

And grow strong.

Tomorrow I’ll sit at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare 

Say to me,

Eat in the kitchen

Then. 

Besides, 

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed –

I too am America.

But just as much of Hughes’s work holds beautiful truths for people of all races and cultures. 

I loved my friend

He went away from me. 

There’s nothing more to say.

The poem ends,

Soft as it began – 

I loved my friend. 

I’ve spent almost all of my life wanting to be a successful writer. I’ve tried very hard, and yet I’ve never quite made it. I’ve certainly never even come close to the brilliance of James Baldwin or Toni Morrison or Langston Hughes… or Jane Austin and Anne Rice for that matter. So, don’t feed me any BS about white male supremacy. I may not have enough talent, but those folks do. In my line of work, and I’m sure in all others, there is no such thing as white male supremacy. 

As for me, you may wonder why I don’t just give up. Well, because… as Mr. Hughes says:

Hold fast to your dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.