Review: I, Too, Am America Symbolizes Hope For Equality

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“We all bleed the same
So tell me why, tell me why
We’re divided.”

Those lyrics from the song “Bleed The Same” by Mandisa, featuring TobyMac and Kirk Franklin are what I was thinking about when I participated in a Black Lives Matter march on Sunday.

It felt so good be part of the fight against discrimination and violence against George Floyd and others and to use my voice to tell the world that Black Lives Matter, something everyone should know by now. When the cars were honking in support, it felt great knowing we were making a difference.

Something cool about the march was that it was kid-friendly, so it was not scary like the ones on TV. And I loved that there was a storytime involved! The book that was read was called I, Too, Am America, a poem by Langston Hughes, and illustrations by Bryan Collier. The illustrator is a three-time Caldecott Honor recipient, and for this book, he won the Coretta Scott King Award for pictures!

The poem is short but powerful, talking about how people don’t respect the man because of the color of his skin. They tell them to “eat in the kitchen/when company comes.” But, the man just laughs, and tells himself that tomorrow, he’ll eat at the table, and everyone will see how truly beautiful he is.

What I liked about this book is that it signified hope for the future. Also, Langston Hughes never tells you who the person in the poem is, what his name is, or where he lived; because he probably wanted it to be about ALL black people, not just about a specific person – everyone can relate.

But the illustrator takes his words and makes a visual story using a variety of black people. He makes the main character a Pullman porter. I also discovered that the illustrator snuck in a few hidden things, like a newspaper article with himself on the front page. Plus, the Pullman porter in the book has a translucent flag over him at the beginning of the book and at the end, there is a picture of a little boy who rips it off his own face. I think this symbolizes that black people used to be invisible to some people.

Race shouldn’t matter. But it does to some people. Even though we are all American, some white people still think that they’re better, for one reason or another. But, little black kids need to know at an early age that they aren’t inferior. And little white kids need to grow up learning that racism is wrong. That’s why I’m glad there were so many at the march. And that is why I am recommending this book.

This book was really amazing! I rate it and the march four out of four roses!

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