Claude McKay's If We Must Die Essay

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Claude McKay's If We Must Die

One of the most influential writers of the Harlem Renaissance was Jamaican born Claude McKay, who was a political activist, a novelist, an essayist and a poet. Claude McKay was aware of how to keep his name consistently in mainstream culture by writing for that audience. Although in McKay’s arsenal he possessed powerful poems. The book that included such revolutionary poetry is Harlem Shadows. His 1922 book of poems, Harlem Shadows, Barros acknowledged that this poem was said by many to have inaugurated the Harlem Renaissance. Throughout McKay’s writing career he used a lot of dialect and African American vernacular in his writing, which was rather controversial at the time. Writing in dialect wasn’t
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If we as humans die in whatever situation arises, let it not be like an animal, inhumane, without a name and unjust. “If we must die, O let us nobly die”, and eventhough the person might be by far outnumbered, beaten and maimed not to sit there and take the punishment. That there last breaths is one of victory because the person never stopped fighting back. Erasing the idea of passive resistance which made such people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. known for. Although the poem had a universal appeal, McKay published this poem through one of the fiercest times for African Americans. There were severe racial problems with Blacks and Whites through out sparking violence. In 1919 they’re where countless race riots in Harlem and all over the United States. This poem could have even fanned the flame that the race riots started. This poem itself moved people to stand up for themselves and I don’t doubt that it did. This poem can easily be read today and appeal to today’s society. It seems that there will always be an oppressed group, that is something we can’t escape from. If the poem “If We Must Die” were read today, I feel it would move countless people into action. Especially now where there are a lot of problems with the New York City police department. The Police department’s using tactics of racial profiling, countless shootings, and deaths of young African American and Latino men. No matter what decade we live in, same rules seem to apply. Their will
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