Still I Rise

A comparative analysis of black poetry In America: Maya Angelou and Solange College

Both Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” (1978) and Solange’s song “Don’t Touch my Hair” (2016) illustrate different stages in the African-American struggle with otherization of their identity. “Still I Rise” iterates many examples of how African-Americans have been oppressed by the dominant white culture, punctuating each example with their ability to overcome each, while “Don’t touch My Hair” develops an extended metaphor between the curiosity and invasiveness of white people wishing to touch black hair and their objectification of black people and towards their feelings and lack of respect for their identity. Both poems employ repetition and a direct dialogue with the dominant white culture to portray different aspects of their centuries-long striving towards equality from slavery and oppression.

Both “Still I Rise” (1978) and “Don’t Touch My Hair” (2016) make use of voice to convey their messages of resistance against the different forms of oppression offered by the the dominant white culture (hereafter referred to as DWC) as described in the poems. The voices in both poems are remarkable in that they both address the DWC directly, referring to it in both poems as the “you” with whom the narrator is directly speaking. While...

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