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Langston Hughes

(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

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My old man's a white old man
And my old mother's black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.
If ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I'm sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well
My old man died in a fine big house.
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I'm going to die,
Being neither white nor black?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

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  • Freshman - 2,239 Points Patricia Grantham (4/24/2014 8:24:00 AM)

    This is a wow write. One of the most honest and
    expressive poems I have ever had the pleasure
    of reading. The dilemma of being neither white nor
    black holds true. To solve the problem just be you!
    Excellent. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Angel E. B. (4/25/2013 11:32:00 AM)

    This is such a good poem, it really describes the situation of many african americans back then. It really resonates with me because I'm a halfie too. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Mark Jensen (1/4/2013 1:40:00 AM)

    A marvelous poem! Many levels of reflection and surprising turns. Langston Hughes is génial! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 660 Points Cynthia Buhain-baello (2/19/2012 1:00:00 AM)

    Excellent! The poem conveys the author's dilemma in a witty way even though the message is rather profound (race and family conflict) . (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ali Wright (12/8/2011 12:33:00 PM)

    When I originally read this poem I also focused on the racial message. However, after studying the poem more carefully I concluded that 'race' was not the subject, rather it was the container stored the lesson.

    To me, the person in the poem was apologizing to his dead parents for blaming them for his life that was bitter because he wasn't accepted by blacks or whites.

    As he grew in understanding he realized that only 'he' was responsible for his success or lack thereof in this life.

    So the message to me is to fight the urge to 'blame' someone else for your problems and take complete ownership of your life. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,549 Points Hans Vr (6/1/2010 10:35:00 AM)

    This man lives on in his poetry.
    Very nicely written.
    Let us do away with any form of racism and discrimination
    Poetry is a great way to teach wisdom. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Sarita Brown (10/27/2009 7:00:00 PM)

    Reading Langston Hughes now, in an age where a mixed race man has become president of the United States and where something he was so sure would never happen, has happened gives these poems a new and bittersweet resonance.

    i love Langston's honesty and vivid
    use of language.

    i hope he can see how far the world has come.

    blessings. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Sharpella Sanders (5/4/2009 8:08:00 AM)

    i really love this poem because i am multiracial. race itself doesn't matter to me because i am so many different things like black, white, Indian, and Spanish. sometimes when you're multiracial you kind of feel like you don't really have a place since you don't fall into one single category.In that case i think we have to make up our own place in the world and teach others that no matter what racism isn't right nor is it fair. being mixed with so many things makes me happy because it gives me a chance to explore my roots, where i really come from. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Butter Scotch (5/10/2008 10:49:00 AM)

    This poem gave me a feeling that what ever race you are you should be happy with it because it your race ur culture your everything also I learned that never disrespect your parents, you will then turn over and see this future where you feel sorry for them because something happened to you the same way. So again I will thank langston hughes for these nice poems he wrote for me and I hope to get reading he most famous poems! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Little Poet (4/23/2008 2:02:00 PM)

    this is a great poem about the differences that you shouldn't no matter what color your skin is if i were a teacher i would use this as a poetic way to teach how bad racism can be. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Carey Byrd (8/29/2007 8:55:00 AM)

    Could it be he was not talking about his heritage because if my memory serves me well, both of Hughes parents were African Americans. Unlike his father Hughes loved 'my people.' (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Pat Royce (3/21/2007 10:29:00 AM)

    This is a great little poem I give it 10/10.
    It feels as though it just came straight out of the “pen”.
    It’s as clear as a new mirror, concise, and deceptively deep.

    Remember this though, “Life is what we think it is. We are what we think'. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kenisha Harden (1/30/2007 8:23:00 PM)

    I'd have to say that life for many people in the US is still shaped by race. Definitely not as bad as it was back then but many people are still struggling becasue of their race. This is a wonderful poem. (Report) Reply

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