DREAMING BLACK BOY INTRODUCTION I believe that we all dream when we are asleep. Most of these dreams have very little basis in reality. But there is another kind of dream which is based on our experiences. This is a longing, a hope or a wish for something that is lacking. You may dream of the day when CXC is finished so that you may have long periods of uninterrupted sleep. For those whose parents are working overseas you may dream of the holidays when your parents will visit or be home for good. What are some of the things that you dream of doing / being / having? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.A. during the 1950’s and 1960’s. He lived in an environment that was similar to that of the boy in this poem. He had a dream that was memorialized in a famous speech. Among the things he dreamt was that his little children “will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.” In trying to fulfil this dream Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39. Please read the full text of I have a dream. You may find that reading about the horrific murder of the 14 year old boy, Emmett Till in 1955, puts the fears and concerns of the persona into context. TITLE The title is appropriate as it prepares us for the aspirations of a boy who is black. The fact that his colour is mentioned in the title suggests that the poem is about a boy who suffers discrimination because of his race. CONTENT The poem might be seen as a wish list which draws attention to the areas in which this boy sees the need for change. The word wish is used twelve times. (Repetition) Stanza one places our young dreamer in his classroom. He longs for the attention of his white teacher who is in the habit of ignoring him (his eyes go past him) even when he does something outstanding, like scoring a goal. He knows that he probably contributes to his own lack of visibility in that even when he knows the answer, he clams up. He feels that since he is in the process of getting an education he should not behave like his woodchopper ancestors who were not educated. He uses this simile to show that he needs to be more confident, assertive and self assured. Stanza two recognizes how important education is as a means of improving your status in society, and so the boy wants to be educated “to the best of tune up”. Please pay attention to this metaphor. When musicians tune up their instruments, they are ensuring that they play at the right pitch. This boy is ambitious; he wants to be educated to the highest level possible. He knows that if you are educated, you should not feel that you
Prepared by Mrs. Ercelle John-Thomas for VincyClassroom.com
CXC POEMS - A CONVERSATION
have to “lick boots” (metaphor); that is to do something low, wrong, disgraceful or demeaning to impress someone in authority because you want a job or a promotion. He wants to be free to travel all over the world without being humiliated by being told that there are certain places that he cannot enter because of his colour. “…no …hotel keepers would make it a waste.” The word waste implies that he would be wasting time, effort and money if he cannot enjoy a trip that he pays for. In stanza three, he wishes that “life wouldn’t spend [him] out opposing”.(metaphor) We have two choices when confronted with injustice, either to accept the unfair treatment quietly, or to oppose it. Clearly he will not accept and so he is hoping for a life in the future where there is justice and equality for all so that he will have no need to oppose. A person who is spent is a person who is tired. He wants to do productive things with his life; he does not want to spend his life fighting for rights that should be his without any effort on his part. As a human being he is made with the ability to literally stand upright, but he wants to do more than the average human being,...