Black and White People's Contrasting Ideas About Wealth and Happiness Depicted in the Poem Nikki-Rosa

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In the poem “Nikki-Rosa” by Nikki Giovanni, the poet communicates through her childhood memories her belief that white people and black people have fundamentally different ideas about wealth and happiness. Along with her words, she uses structure, tone and imagery to convey her belief that white people and black people see their personal life-experiences differently. Wealth for black people is love, family, and togetherness, not tangible items. A sense of community and acceptance of one another are more valuable than having even a private toilet. White people see “black wealth” as a hard life and focus on the tangible things that are missing (i.e., a toilet or a bathtub) rather than the feelings of happiness about being together. The …show more content…
white people’s perceptions of that memory. The author uses tone and images throughout to compare and contrast the concepts of “black wealth” and a “hard life”. The author combines the use of images with blunt word combinations to make her point. For example, “you always remember things like living in Woodlawn/with no inside toilet” (line 3). This image evokes the warmth of remembering a special community with the negative of having to use outdoor facilities. Another example of this combination of tone and imagery is “how good the water felt/ when you got your bath from one/ of those/ big tubs that folk in chicago barbecue in” (line 9). Again, the poet’s positive memory of feeling fresh after her bath is combined with the fact that she had to bathe in a barbecue drum. Images are vital to the poem’s meaning. They evoke the reader’s emotions and show us that love is more valuable than all things, and money does not define happiness. This is demonstrated by the images as well as the tone of the poem. The author shares “though you’re poor it isn’t poverty that/ concerns you/ and though they fought a lot/ it isn’t your father’s drinking that makes any difference/ but only that everybody is together"(line 23-24). The images and tone in this quote are powerful and impress upon the reader the strong sense of family togetherness the poet experienced, in