Dreams Deferred And Pleas For Help Unheard : The Effects Of Racism

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Dreams Deferred and Pleas for Help Unheard: The Effects of Racism
Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem” and William Faulkner’s “That Evening Sun” both provide unique and impactful takes on systematic racism in the post-slavery United States. Neither piece explicitly confronts or names the racism depicted in them, illustrating how casual racial prejudice and its effects on its victims are often viewed as inconsequential or innocent – and therefore are dangerously insidious. Both “Harlem” and “That Evening Sun” avoid featuring the violent, dramatic depictions of racism typical of other creative works, but that does not lessen the impact of their messages on the topic. “Harlem,” for instance, begins with a deceptively simple question: “What happens to a dream deferred?” (Hughes 1). When viewed through a racial lens, a ‘dream deferred’ appears to allude not to violent and dramatic forms of racism, but rather the small disadvantages placed against African Americans via “harmless” laws and cultural norms. These laws and norms eventually add up to insurmountable odds that prevent African Americans from achieving their dreams. Due to the systematic racism African Americans faced at the time “Harlem” was written – and the slow efforts to eliminate this insidious form of racism – many had to give up their dreams of attending college, moving out of poor neighborhoods, or becoming financially stable. Their deferred dreams are described in the poem as having varying and disappointing fates

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