Today I want to share a poem, “I, Too,” by Langston Hughes.

In this poem, Hughes expresses both the great shame of the inequities built into American life and the potential, beauty and need to change also built into American life. The poem responds to Whitman’s famous poems of America and expands upon Whitman’s vision.

First published in 1925, almost 100 years ago, the is still important today. Each of us, whatever the color of our skin, whatever our background, gender, ability, belief can sing out in and  for a country that we hope is able to see all of our beauty.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

What if everyone in America had a seat at the table?

These past four years have reminded us that democracy is not something to ever be taken for granted, that it is fragile, and takes our attention and continual work. As Kamala Harris said, quoting John Lewis: ‘Democracy is not a state. It is an act.’

Democracy, writing, meditation—they are all practices, acts: we must actively participate in them. Nothing is static. But if we bring our awareness again and again to what matters, we can grow.

May we live in an American and a world in which we can see everyone’s beauty! May we continue to grow and to practice.

I invite you to take a few moments to reflect on this poem and to write your own version.

Writing Prompts:

writing prompts "I, too"

*Write your own version of this poem. Start your poem with the phrase “I, too, sing America”

*Were there times when we weren’t invited to eat in with other people? A time when you felt left out or looked down on? Describe that scene. In what ways did it make you “grow strong”?

*Write a poem/ story/ that celebrates your unique beauty.

*Use these words in a poem/ piece of writing: darker, kitchen, strong, laugh, dare, say.

I suggest that you use my short silent breath meditation before writing. Come over to my free resource library to get that, and other meditations and writing prompts for free. 

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