American Literature Response Essay

Submitted By cassygail228
Words: 825
Pages: 4

Cassandra H. Ivey
American Literature
July 8, 2012

My Life will Speak For Me

When I had to choose a topic to write a response for this time, it was difficult to find something positive to write a respond on. Being an African American Woman and looking back through history I found myself sadden by the details of what happened in our history. The Harlem Renaissance, for instance grieved me to read some of the poems, short stories stating what happened during that era, and how many lives were lost during that time. I was however able to find one poem that spoke volumes to me and gave me the inspiration to write this paper.
I chose the poem “If we must Die” by Claude McKay. This poem informed me of how important it was for many African Americans to live a noble and honorable life. It was very important for them to take a stand for equality and honor and even die, if need be, fighting for it. McKay states in the poem “If we must die, oh let us nobly die, so that our precious blood may not be shed”. I think McKay felt as though during this time African Americans were indeed going to die eventually. However, if they had to die, let there be a reason, or and positive meaning to their death.
McKay states in the poem, “So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy shall be constrained to honor us though dead”. I think in a statement McKay was saying that if death were to happen, it would not be a meaningless death but one that will make even the accusers respect and honor those that they have killed. McKay was making sure that African American knew how important honor and respect was. He wanted to make sure that nobility was still an important factor even unto death.
When reading this poem I was reminded of the death of Christ, and how he instructs us to remember his death and the meaning and honor in which he did just for us. I am thankful for the blood that was shed on the cross for our sins and how much he went through just for me. I also feel as though many African American lives were lost and their deaths paved the way for the freedom that I have today. African Americans fault for equality, they wanted to have the same rights as everyone else, to be able to vote, work, have land and possessions, and live their lives in freedom. Often times during this era African Americans were beaten, murdered in the streets, and hung to death from trees, with no one being punished for their deaths. During this era there were other poems that reflected the deaths of African Americans such as Silhouette, and The Lynching that portrayed how brutal the death were and how meaningless it was for the white man to kill most times innocent African Americans.
The first two lines of McKay's poem, "If we must die, let it not be like hogs, Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot," I think