ENG125: Introduction to Literature
The literary works I will compare are “Child of the Americas” by Aurora Levin Morales and “What’s It like to be a Black Girl” by Patricia Smith. The works focus on the psyche of two women of African descent, plagued by the historical American public perceptions of their culture. These negative perceptions play an important part of the individual’s psyche due to prejudice. It has misconstrued and distorted the minds of these young African American girls. These poems show how two young girls from different American minority sub-cultures, view themselves in totally different perspectives. One of the young women wishes to identify with the culture and image of her African American ancestor’s slave owners; however the other wishes to embrace and celebrate her African Latino heritage. The poem, “What’s it like to be a Black Girl”, is a look into the mind of a black girl in a society that is fueled with racism and discrimination, both of race and gender. This person is transitioning from a young black girl into young black women and trying to accept her changing body. She has been taught to be ashamed of who she is, what she looks like, and where she comes from. She wants her features to look like those who are accepted in society. “It’s being 9 years old and feeling like you’re not finished,” writes Smith, “like your edges are wild, like there’s something, everything, wrong.” (Smith, 4) What the poem is saying in this passage is this girl sees her body changing right in front of her eyes but she also sees herself as society sees her. She has been taught that what she looks like is wrong. When she say her edges are wild, she is talking about the changes her body is experiencing. The growth of her breasts and the area below that is starting to arouse her. She feels uncomfortable in her own skin. The society in which she lives is not willing to accept and embrace the young woman for who she is. The black girl in Smith’s poem longs to be white so that she will feel loved and wanted. She knows that as long as she has her dark skin color, brown eyes, and nappy hair, she will never be treated equally. “It’s dropping food coloring in your eyes to make them blue and suffering their burn in silence. It’s popping a bleached white mop head over the kinks of your hair and primping in front of the mirrors that deny your reflection.” (Smith, 9) This girl knows that her body is definitely changing and developing into a woman, but it’s a black woman that she does not want to be. She wants to have blonde hair, white skin, and pretty blue eyes, what society has taught her is beautiful. The opposite can be said about the girl in “Child of the America’s” by Morales. The first sentence, “I am a child of the America’s”, (Morales, 1) shows that this girl knows who she is and accepts that she is different than what she may see everyday. She is proud of her Puerto Rican heritage, proud to be of multi-racial descent, proud to be from the islands. She knows where she comes from and where she has is going. In “Child of the America’s”, the girl proudly states she is, “a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean”. (Morales, 2) The girl in this poem lets us know from the beginning that she is a girl of mixed race. She is strong and confident in her abilities. She enjoys life and appears to be well educated and well versed. Her social class could be middle class to wealthy with parents that worked their way out of poverty. “A product of the ghettos of New York I have never known”. (Morales, 5) “I speak English with passion: it's the tongue of my consciousness, a flashing knife blade of cristal, my tool, my craft”. (Morales, 7, 8) She has embraced her heritage and loves what she sees in the mirror, unlike the black girl in Smith’s poem. In the poem, “What’s it like to be a Black Girl”, Smith talks about the things that are happening with the girl’s...