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“I Too” and “The Ballard Of Landlord”


In their works, the two poets send out a message that indicates that something is wrong in the society. Discrimination of the human being in any form is an injustice. This is because once someone is discriminated against he is automatically denied a chance to compete and be like the other people. When Langston Hughes mentions “They send me to eat to kitchen”, in his poem “I too” he is bringing us to the attention that he is been discriminated against by being send to eat in the kitchen while the rest of the family or other members use the dining table. This clearly portrays how the society is unfair with its discriminatory behavior. The mere fact that he notes “I’m the darker brother” can be interpreted in the sense that he is of a different race from the others.

Indeed it is therefore the race factor that is used for discrimination. Phillis Whitley in her poem notes that “some view our sable race with a scornful eye”. This means that someone and definitely from a different race does not like the African or black race. Discrimination in the poem is brought out by such comments. It is important to underscore that discrimination of any form subjected to a human being is an injustice and denies that particular individual an equal opportunity to fulfill his or her desires. This causes harm to the affected party. The society if full of discrimination as the authors bring it out in their works. From a historical perspective, discrimination has existed in the American society since time immemorial. This discrimination is race based or even gender based. Most of the black people were being looked down upon by the whites because of their various problems or backgrounds.

One thing that comes out from the works of these two authors is that they are both bold and make their voice heard by all. Although they feel oppressed by their fellow humans they submit to their demands but make it very clear that one time the oppression will have to come to an end. Langston writes “but I laugh” “and eat well”.This is a demonstration that he is bold enough to show the oppressors that he is aware of what they are doing to him. The oppressed are always conscious about their rights. It is actually their boldness that is bound to liberate them from oppression and discrimination.


“Taught my benighted soul to understand” as recorded by Phillis Whitely in her poem brings out the issue of awareness and consciousness to what is happening around. Her voice comes out like that of a slave who is under oppression but she is more than willing to come out of the bondage with the slightest opportunity. The message is quite clear to the white Christians that even though the black are under oppression it will come to an end at one time. This boldness is fundamental to the realization and struggle to liberation from the domination of one race against the others. Fairness and justice demands that all people must receive equal treatment despite their racial backgrounds. It is the boldness in the both poets that is used to bring hope to the black race that indeed they will achieve equality one day because they are aware of that events that are taking place in their society.

Culturally the works of the two poets is related. This is because they both seem to be representing the black race. Therefore their cultural aspects of life are interrelated. In a black American context it is not right to treat other people unfairly for instance by discriminating against them. Most Africans found themselves as slaves in America especially during the pre-colonial and the colonial period. Slavery is a theme that has been adequately represented by both poets. Phillis Wheatley notes “Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,”. Many Africans were pagans and when they found their way through slavery to America, they found Christianity which preaches against slavery. Slavery as a form of oppression and injustice is represented by both poets. Hughes laments why he should be made to eat in the kitchen while the rest eat on the dining table. On the other side Phillis has been moved from her native African land to work for a race that does not seem to recognize that the black race has its own achievements and deserves equal treatment. Still in Hughes “The Ballard of landlord” the landlord demands to be paid ten bucks yet the services he is offering do not deserve the amount. In this particular case, the tenant is oppressed even by the law when he is detained without bail and finally sentenced to jail when in the real sense he was justified in his pursuit for better services from the landlord.

In the context of the society, the two poets have managed to bring out the very problems that are present especially in the face of black people. The society tends to be biased against certain races because of their background and other factors. The black community as presented by the two poets has been exposed to so many injustices in the society. Slavery is the best example with slaves not being given an equal opportunity like the other people to self improvement and prosperity. When the landlord refuses to improve his services yet he expects to squeeze money from the tenant, it is a clear indication of a society which does not seem to care about the well being of others especially if they belong to a different race. Hughes has recorded that “I’m a darker brother, and they send me to eat in the kitchen”. This is a perfect example of a society which is not bothered even if the person whom you live with is subjected to discrimination based on race.


The analysis of the poems from the two authors reveals that they were out to send out the message of hope to all the oppressed and those who are victims of discrimination. Though the injustices were being manifested in various forms in the society, there was hope that things could be better. As Hughes, mentions in his poem though he was being send to eat in the kitchen, he was optimistic that he would eventually utilize the opportunity to feed well and grow strong such that in future things would be much better for him. This in the poems depicts that the authors are conscious of the fact that all is not lost despite the injustices in the society. The authors thus manage to successfully convey


Hilda L Smith ,(2000), Women politic and social thought , Indiana University press.

Hughes Lungstong,(2001), Fight for freedom and other writings on civil rights , University of Missouri press.


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