The problem with yanking black art and history from its context, holding it up in fragments for special occasions and then, just as quickly, packing it away until next time is that it becomes a stale artifact rather than an opportunity for illumination.
Whenever I was called upon to recite a black poem for some school or city function, it seems that the powers that be were more interested in being able to pat themselves on the back for having cultivated yet another well-spoken black student rather than engaging black history as American history, which is to say, complex, roiling, and, of course, absolutely relevant to the present.
Having students read a few poems by Maya Angelou, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen, and calling it a day is more than lazy; it’s indicative of the tendency of American culture to treat African-American literature as decoration or pleasant asides rather than integral parts of the American literary canon.

Saeed Jones, Rising to Possibility,” Buzzfeed.

(via knowledge equals black power)


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