The term identity is defined by Webster’s dictionary as being “the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions” however in exploring the concept of Identity in black literature, we can find no definite explanation or definition. We can try to accept that it has been rooted in social situations that are generally more discriminatory, such the institution of slavery. In some way shape or form, the average or normal African American is confronted with the question of where do I fit in amongst the white society? The problem with African American Identity has many dimensions, such as community, class, and color. The reality of the African American is one that is inescapable in America. Color which is inherent in the concept of self, manifest in race consciousness. This is extremely significant because an African American establishes his identity with other individuals, known or unknown, on the basis of a similarity of color and features, that allowing the individual to be included in groups membership, “the subject of his self identity.” After the African Americans began to search for their identity looking through heritage, tradition, and folk traditions. Langston Hughes to me has been nourishing the black sensibility and inspiring it to create Afro American literation and transforming it into a “literature of struggle.” The poetry of Langston Hughes has the theme of “ I, too sing America” He made extraordinary contributions to American literature and has came to be regarded as a leading voice in the Renaissance of the arts in the 1920’s. Hughes growing up asked the same question to himself of who he was, his lack of identity in society, which put a large impact on his mind and soul and made him a poet of the blacks. Hughes developed a distinct movement of “negritude” which may be regarded as the soul of the Renaissance. Rising from the consciousness of his skin color and passing through various stages of identification with people and territory of Africa, and finally grounding it in the American Past. Negritude “in the poetry of Hughes evolves into a definite and enduring concept expressive of definite vision.” He Hughes doesn’t suffer from what W.E.B Dubois terms as a double consciousness. “Two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings, two warring ideals in one dark body.” Search for identity seems to be a vital aspect in the work of Langston Hughes. The identity of an American black citizen was denied to him and there was a loss of identity which a modern man living in the 20th century experiences. The Black people of America are American, the African and Black Americans are at the same time. Africa which is thought to be homeland for blacks, was dealt with by Langston Hughes, who missed the natural beauty of Africa and dreaded being caged in the mayhem of civilization. He searched his roots back in Africa. Primitivism had already become a fascinating alternative for people for people not interested in the 2nd industrial revolution. It gave new meaning of going back to the roots and ones identity. The poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” is an example of the of the urge and need of the Negro to go back to his own land to find ethnic connections. The poet says: I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
In the poems entirety the rivers symbolize the glorious past, which have been flowing since humanities inception. So the African who has known rivers cannot be rootless or without past. Hughes also established a definite identity between the Blacks of America and the continent of Africa which he states in his poem called “Negro” I am a Negro:
Black as the night is black,
Black like the depths of my Africa.
I've been a slave:
I've been a worker:
I've been a singer:
All the way from Africa to Georgia
I carried my sorrow songs.
It was not easy to just up and go back to...
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