Black Poems Are Not All Black and White
Black poems, for many people, specifically speak to the struggle to overcome racism, racial prejudice and discrimination against people who are of African ancestry. Indeed, as a black poet, I feel that my best poems portray aspects of the black experience, race relations and other race related issues. But life is not all black and white, and just like any other poet, black poets write poems about a myriad of issues that profoundly affect life, strike their sensibilities, or simply speak about ordinary events in life.
In some ways, I suppose, it is quite natural for someone to feel the need to associate black poems with the black experience. Many famous black poets are best known for their poems that reflect black poets’ feelings about living under conditions of racial oppression and injustice. To be sure, some black poets—famous and otherwise—probably wouldn’t have it any other way, because their black experience really does inspire what they consider to be their most meaningful poems. But, at the same time, black poets don’t want to be defined—or pigeonholed—by their “black” poems, but would like to be known for their entire body of work. What people should realize is that though much of black art, including poetry, is representative of the African diaspora, even the art that has nothing to do with ethnicity should be valued and appreciated.
Poems that reflect the black experience—experiences that are on many levels interwoven with race, racism and race relations—are undeniably black poems, but poetry that does not have anything to do with race at all which are written by black people is also black poetry. The fact that black poets want their poetry that portrays the black experience to be appreciated, but also want their other poems to be viewed, judged, or valued within a colorblind context may be considered somewhat of a paradox, but it is just one of the difficult issues of being black in a world that has systematically and historically oppressed black people.
Just like Black Poems (i.e., blackpoems.net) has poetry that deals with race relations, below are links to poems that don’t have anything to do with race at all. Most of the poems were written by me, Phillip McCullough Jr., but this may change as the site evolves. Like I have alluded to before, I don’t necessarily believe it is my best work, but I am my own worst critic. Just keep in mind that most of them were written when I was younger and much more idealistic. Please enjoy, register and leave appropriate feedback. Don’t fail to visit the links to the other poems on Black Poems’ home page. Thanks!