Frederick Douglass’s speech “If I Had A Country, I Should Be A Patriot” delivers a blasting reproach on the discrimination of the African American and why he feels indignant about his country and being unwilling to call himself a patriot. Similar to Langston Hughes’s “I, Too, Sing America” , both employ a chord informative structure and a canting tone simple enough for the audience to incite a reaction from the audience to plead for freedom in America. Both authors though in different times face the challenges of racism and being an African American in the “Republic” of America.
Douglass explains that even under natural rights there is no spot sacred in America that can secure his right of liberty. He orates “This is your land of the free”, your “home of the brave” to symbolize the ambivalence and optimism for freedom being an African American in America at that juncture and that America must be envisioned as the sentimental identity of the African American slave. “I never knew what freedom was till I got beyond the limits of the American eagle”.
Douglass tries to explain that the idea of being a patriot in America differs from the reality currently going on in his time persuading his listeners to acknowledge the humanity in dehumanizing the institution of slavery. In Langston Hughes’s poem his first stanza details how he is treated unequally. “I am the darker brother; they send me to eat in the kitchen, when company comes but I laugh and eat well and grow strong.” He demonstrates that the nation he considers himself to belong under the constitution does not treat him as a superior but an inferior. The sentiment of this quote internally depicts that he feels equal to the other race.
Unlike Douglass who is encouraging the people to realize their rights, Hughes is waiting for the opportune moment to rebel. The last four lines of Hughes’s poem “Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed – I, too, am America” corresponds with Douglass’s insight of hope and using inequality to unmask inequality in America and orating that his race integral to the very existence of America. Hughes orates that he will endure the racial despair with hopefulness in the American promise of justice for all. Douglass and Hughes are judging that there’s no greater danger to the advancement of the African American than the country and its spirit of alienation. This will always steer up to a revolution in a country.
America should be a land true to natural love of liberty and its moral humanity and guide its united people to a moral progress. They found a reason to love and identify with this country despite injustices their people had suffered continued to suffer in their days as they waited for the alternate solution.
Courtney from Study Moose
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