The Culture of and Prejudice Against African Americans as Depicted in Gwendolyn Brooks' Poetry and Stories

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African American’s have faced a great deal of harsh and cruel treatment throughout our society. From being stripped from their homeland of Africa and being brought to America as slaves, African Americans have seen and been through it all. Author and renowned poet Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks discuses and describes many of the cruel and unfair treatment that African Americans have faced throughout our civilization. Brooks’ not only speaks on the racial prejudice of African Americans, but she also discusses the heartaches, the life, and the growth of African Americans as a people. Brooks’ poetry and stories are very similar to her own experience growing up as an African American woman.

Brooks’ uses the symbol of death many times in her work. According to author Harry B. Shaw, the sheer frequency with which death appears in Miss Brooks’ poetry indicates its importance in her thinking (Shaw 48).

In one of Brooks’ first poems “The Mother”, Brooks discuses the heartache and the pain of a mother who has had numerous abortions and now feels remorse for what she has done. She speaks of how the child is created and growing in the womb of the mother, but how the child’s life is ended before the child could ever become someone successful. The mother never gets a chance to watch her child grow or to discipline their child for being disobedient or ever get to comfort the child when the child is sad. Towards the end of the poem, the mother apologizes to the child because the child will never have a chance to grow and experience life on their own. Though the mother has killed her child, she states that she still loves her unborn child for the rest of her life.

In the biography of her life, author Harry B. Shaw also discusses the poem “The Mo...

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...les of women, in particular African American women, within the public and private realms. Through the course of the novel, Maud Martha fights a war against sexism, classism, and racism to establish her identity. Winning this war is of paramount importance and of epic heroic dimensions because at stake for Maud Martha, as representative woman, are home and family, as well as autonomy, creativity, and self expression (Frazier 134).

Gwendolyn Brooks’ work is still admired by many people today. The way she presents her poetry and the way she describes the life of African Americans in her work is what many people would call interesting. She presents the lifestyle of African Americans in way that we can all relate to and understand. Gwendolyn Brooks’ passed away December 3, 2000. Though Brooks is gone, her work will always be cherished and never will it be forgotten.

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