What is an African American poet, and what does the distinction mean?

In my opinion, Langston Hughes downplays the role of the “African American poet” and actually strives to dispel this distinction. Langston Hughes addresses the distinction of an African American poet, or lack thereof, in his poem “Theme for English B”. Hughes strives to stress that there is no distinction for African American poets – meaning the identity of a poet is unrelated to his ethnicity. This sentiment is especially evident in the lines: “Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. 
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life . . . I guess being colored doesn’t make me NOT like 
the same things other folks like who are other races.” In simple speech, Hughes stresses that his race has no implications on his desires and ambitions. His thoughts and interests are not ruled by fact that he is a black man; for example, Hughes goes on to say that his music tastes can be common with that of a white man – “Bessie, bop, or Bach”. Again, Hughes is implying that our basic interests and passions can be common because we are all human. Hughes also mocks the prejudice that surrounds the African American community as he sarcastically questions whether his paper should be colored, since a Black man writes it. In the final lines of the poem, Hughes adopts a sense of sincerity, asserting that he is inescapably linked to the white man because ultimately, the two ethnicities are blended together to create the distinction that is “American”. The two races must learn from each other and accept the fact that they are a unified entity.

 

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