Racism or racialism is any action, practice or belief that reflects the racial worldview the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called ‘races’ that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality intellect morality and other cultural behavioral features and that some races are innately superior to others. Racism was at the heart of north American slavery and the overseas colonization and empire building activities of some western Europeans especially in the 18th century.
There had been many persons in history who objected to this racist ideal. They are called anti-racialists. Langston Hughes was one of them and many of his poems bear evidence of his anti-racialist attitude.
‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ is apparently concerned with proving the ancientness of the Negro race but at a deeper level it is a protest against slavery of the black community in a time of great racial intolerance, injustice and inequality in America. Hughes inspired and united the black community when their voice was not accepted by the predominantly white society. As a result he became the unofficial poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance that voiced the protest of the black Americans against the discrimination made by the whites against the Negroes.
The poem ‘I, too Sing America’ is about someone who is claiming his American identity and social and civil rights. He is a black American who expresses his condition as a slave at a white man’s house and hopes that sometime in the future he will be able to sit at the same table with the white guests at his master’s house. this poem was published when civil right movement aimed at ending the racial segregation and discrimination between the Negroes and the white Americans and winning constitutional rights for voting for the black people. This poem ‘I, Too Sing America’ embodies the poet’s anti-racialist attitude in a highly poetic form.
The ‘Harlem’ poem reminds the readers of the Harlem Renaissance otherwise known as New Negro Movement which took place in the 1920s for the realization of the black Americans equal rights with the whites. It also anticipates the famous speech named ‘I have a dream’ by Martin Luther King, jr. a decade later.
Thus in the above poems we find many traces of Hughes anti-recitalist attitude. In many other poems of Hughes such traces are also discernible.