Monday, May 26, 2008

Georgia Douglas Johnson: "Black Woman"

Don’t knock at the door, little child,
I cannot let you in,
You know not what a world this is
Of cruelty and sin.
Wait in the still eternity
Until I come to you,
The world is cruel, cruel, child,
I cannot let you in!
Don’t knock at my heart, little one,
I cannot bear the pain
Of turning deaf-ear to your call
Time and time again!
You do not know the monster men
Inhabiting the earth,
Be still, be still, my precious child,
I must not give you birth!
This poem represents the fear of the times of black women bringing children into the world. The discontent, the racism, the violence and the pain that black people had to endure just to live in America were seen as too much for a child. In this poem also, they refer to white men/ police as monsters and try to protect the children from them. Though the overall mood of the poem is of fear for her unborn child and resignation to the way the world is.
The Harlem Renaissance was a time of cultural expression, but also a time of fear and malcontent. Black men were disrespected and mistreated and children were seeing this as a part of everyday life. Women were afraid for their children and the use of villainizing the police and white men was prevalent in the period. The frustrations of the black woman in a man’s world are seen in the piece that isn’t seen in other pieces done by the men of this period so that it gives you insight into the might of the black woman then.

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