Langston Hughes: Poems

Langston Hughes and the Ideological Racial Mountain College

In an essay entitled, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” African-American poet Langston Hughes discusses the importance of creating a black voice in a predominantly white America. Hughes strived to do this in his own work, as he used the rhythmic styles of jazz and bebop in his poetry to speak about the African-American experience. His essay is a critique of black artists that do not follow this trend and choose instead to focus on ‘universal’ subject matter‒‘universal’ in this context meaning ‘white.’ Although he does not mention the word ideology, his argument relies heavily on the concept, as he dissects the artistic consequences of “the mold of American standardization” (“The Negro Artist” 55), a mold that is created by ideological beliefs about race. Furthermore, an Althusserian reading of this essay reveals how the African-American population is systematically ‘other-ized’ not only by the white population, but by members within the African-American community as well. Hughes’s poetry, specifically his series Montage of a Dream Deferred, exemplifies his desire to break out of the ideological beliefs constructed to silence his community.

Hughes’s essay begins with his disappointment in a fellow artist who said to...

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