Essay on Explication of Poem for Black Boys

835 Words Jun 2nd, 2007 4 Pages
Nikki Giovanni's "Poem for Black Boys" is a poignant literary work that addresses several issues concerning the young black male in America and the conflicting views taken by members of the African-American community during the Civil Rights Movement with an inclination towards the peaceful movement perpetuated by the likes of Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. and his non-violent contemporaries. Giovanni's use of allusion, imagery and the sardonic humor of the speaker blend effortlessly to denounce all of the negative connotation of the young African-American male and to sound the battle-cry to black male youths that while society-at-large may place them in a box, it is up to them to prove society wrong. In "Poem for Black Boys," Giovanni …show more content…
A perfect example of in the piece of how African-Americans are vilified comes at the end of the fourth stanza with the lines "grow a natural and practice vandalism/these are useful games (some say a skill even learned)." These two lines show how the black male, especially the young black male is viewed as nothing more than a thief skilled in the art of crime. Further evidence to the fact is found in the line "I'm told it has full instructions of how to siphon gas and fill a bottle," which is again alludes to H. Rap Brown, his cry of ‘Burn Baby Burn' and the use of pipe bombs and the like to demand equality. The meaning and message of Nikki Giovanni's "Poem for Black Boys" is further emphasized by the usage of sardonic humor and sarcasm. In an initial reading, it is easy to confuse the message because of the blatant address of the stereotypes. If one did not know Giovanni or read the poem fully it could be interpreted as black bashing. However, this is nothing more than Giovanni honestly and unapologetically stating the views held by simple-minded people. Giovanni addresses how black males are viewed as drug-addicted, violent and uneducated. These thoughts are supported in the second stanza with "you should play run-away-slave…these are more in line with your history" and the fifth stanza especially: There is a new game I must tell you of/Its called Catch the Leader Lying/ (and knowing
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