the archivist May 6, 2006

Langston Hughes
Theme For English B

The instructor said,

      Go home and write
      a page tonight.
      And let that page come out of you –
      Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
Through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
The Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
Up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
At twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
Hear you, hear me – we two – you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me – who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
Or records – Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
The same things other folks like who are other races.

So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
A part of you, instructor.
You are white –
Yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.

That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me –
Although you’re older – and white –
And somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.


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