Treasure Island

Langston Hughes

(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

Dinner Guest: Me


I know I am
The Negro Problem
Being wined and dined,
Answering the usual questions
That come to white mind
Which seeks demurely
To Probe in polite way
The why and wherewithal
Of darkness U.S.A.--
Wondering how things got this way
In current democratic night,
Murmuring gently
Over fraises du bois,
"I'm so ashamed of being white."

The lobster is delicious,
The wine divine,
And center of attention
At the damask table, mine.
To be a Problem on
Park Avenue at eight
Is not so bad.
Solutions to the Problem,
Of course, wait.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Hannah Shier (6/14/2010 2:31:00 PM)

    Um I agree with Darrell but at the end I think he means that it's great that they're acknowledging that there is a problem, but the solution to that problem is going to have to wait. The whites realize that there is a problem, they just can't, or don't, want to fix it just yet. (Report) Reply

  • Darrell Blue (1/16/2010 2:07:00 PM)

    I personally think this poem is about Langston being invited to a fancy restaurant by a white person and the two of them are discussing race. You can tell by the way he says 'Asked the usual questions' and how the white person is embarrassed to be white. A black person in a fancy restaurant was a big deal back in those days. Not only do they have to wait for service in the restaurant, but their discussion is about the answer to race relations and in the end of the poem he says; the answer to the problem is to wait. Genius duality. (Report) Reply

  • Tyrone Thornton (11/24/2009 8:17:00 PM)

    Magnificent peom.... I love the last two lines of this peom because it puts us to our present day and time. We have waited for a solution. (Report) Reply

  • Tiffany Border (2/20/2009 12:31:00 PM)

    This poem is way too amazing for words! ! ! i am so impressed! ! ! ! i love love love this poem! ! ! i am doing lagston hughes for my prject in school and i could not have picked a better african american! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Sean Andrews (4/23/2008 10:41:00 PM)

    Valid points he makes of white culture in 1965, especially upper-middle class white culture 'park ave', polite, well to do, curious, sympathetic, but still not seeing the point for what it is.
    There is a problem, and he personifies himself as that problem. He doesn't care that you are ashamed of being white, he doesn't want you to be ashamed. He appreciates the hospitality and of listening to him, but he is no charity case which the rich sympathetic white culture can now feel gratified to have contributed to helping solve 'the problem.'
    The 'solution' is not a meal and a conversation, that's in fact part of the problem having over a simple 'dinner guest' isn't the answer, the 'solution' must come later and with more behind it... (Report) Reply

  • Jamila Presnell (3/31/2005 3:59:00 PM)

    I have done a report on this poem for English I was given another poem to work on originally but after reading this poem and pleading my case to my teacher I was allowed to switch to this one. (Report) Reply

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