Black Girl by Patricia Smith and Aurora Levin's Morales' Child of the Americas
Comparison between What it's Like to Be a Black Girl by Patricia Smith and Aurora Levin's Morales' Child of the Americas
Issues of race and racism coupled with those of culture and multiculturalism, in the society constitute one of the problem areas in which different groups of people have had to deal with, some of them having to face the issues on a day-to-day basis. In light of this, various literary works have been produced with the view of expressing the existence of such problems and finding ways in which these issues can be handled (Gale Group, 2003). Such literary works come in the form of poems which include the likes of "Child of the Americas" written by Aurora Morales and "What it is like to be a Black Girl" by Patricia Smith, works which form the basis of this discussion. The two literary works explore to a personal extent the experiences of different minority groups within the American society with respect to how they embrace and understand their cultural make up and backgrounds. Like many other kinds of poems, some of which focus on similar themes, "What it's Like To Be a Black Girl" and "Child of the Americas "have similarities and differences as exhibited in this discussion. These similarities and differences come in a variety of ways and these include elements like their content, forms and styles.
Similarities of the Poems
The similarities between the literary works, "What it's Like to Be a Black Girl" and "Child of the Americas" lie in a lot of factors which relate to the contents of the works, their forms as poems and styles used by the authors in relaying the contents of the literary work as to the audience.
With reference to content, both the poems talk about the negative issues that associate with racism albeit from two different perspectives. In "What it's Like to Be a Black Girl," the persona speaks of the pressure that race adds to the already present confusion in the form changes that occur during puberty. In this poem, the author describes a girl of African descent who experiences confusion; a confusion which mares her life as she attempt to reconcile the changes that occur within her body from the age of nine years.
The persona in this poem at one point states that in her situation, a girl feels like her edges are wild. Here she expresses the discomfort she feels from the changes that go on within her own body irrespective of her race. She goes further to revel how in denial she is of the fact that she is black. With this feeling in mind, the persona goes to the extent of putting into her eyes, blue food colouring in an effort to make them look like those of white people. In spite of the pain she feels in trying to change her looks, the persona finds no answers from the efforts and only seems to sink more and more submerged into the confusion of being black.
In "Child of the Americas," the persona portrays the difficulties she faces in not being the pure white girl within the society she lives in. The persona is basically affected by the historical American public discernment of her background. She herself is not sure anymore of how to consider herself in terms of her cultural background as she seems to have a mixture of many races. She however has the strong desire to identify with her actual historical culture although she finds her American culture not escapable.
The persona in expressing such feelings says that she is Caribbean and Spanish is her flesh to indicate that her ancestors are Spanish. She goes ahead to reveal how much rooted in her continent she is, an aspect which determines how her speaks. According to her, English, she speaks as the language of her consciousness and that she does with passion. To her English seems to be unavoidable as it is a tool she uses mainly for her survival in the society she lives in.
Additionally, both of these poems focus on the issues of gender as they affect the people of different races within the American society. Both the authors use the girls as their personas in advancing the theme of race, racism and multiculturalism in the society. Both the authors use female personas as their objects of focus. Further, both the personas have an African descent. The fact that the persona in the first poem is referred to as the blackgirl automatically qualifies her to be of African descent. The female character in "the Child of America," according to the description she provides indicates that she is of a mixed race, an African race being one of them. It is stated that the character is a child of Diaspora who has been born of cultures that cut across continents. The persona says that she is from the United States while a Puerto Rican and Jew at the same time. At some point she indicates that Africa is in her although she cannot return to Africa.
The two literary works are also similarly in the sense that both are poems. As such, these works constitute the various elements of poetry. These elements include the likes of meter, rhythm, metrical patterns, rhythm schemes, lines and stanzas and visual presentation. Furthermore the two works fall under different genres of poetry (Strachan & Terry, 2000). For instance, different stanzas and phrases are used within the poems to bring out the visual presentations to the readers. For example, one is able to picture the desperation of the black girl in the first poem as she tries to make herself look less of a black girl by applying food colouring in her eyes and the way such an action hurts those very eyes.
Besides this, the "the child of Americas" in stating that she is a product of the ghettos, the readers are able to visualize the way of life in which the personal lives. Repetition as a literary element is also brought out in the second poem where the persona seems to put emphasises on her connections and disconnections with various regions of the world. In the third stanza, she says that she is not African and neither a Taina nor a European. At the same time she mentions of how Africa, Taina and Europe live in her and yet she finds no way of going back to such cultures; cultures which still define her. Also of importance to note is that both the poems are unrhymed. Each of the sentences in the stanzas end with different syllabus.
The tones which are used in the two poems are also similar considering the longing nature that exists among the two personas in the poems. Both the black girl and the multiracial one are in searching of something which seems to be inaccessible. Although the way the two embrace their situations with different attitudes, both of them yearn to be in a position where they can possess some definite identity. The black girl, trying to find out who she is attempts to consider herself better white than black. In light of the negative impression the society has towards her culture she is frustrated of t he facts that she cannot identify with what is considered right in the society and thus uses artificial means to make himself look different. All these efforts are however in futile as she seems to distort all her efforts at finding herself, even in the midst of the changes she is experiencing in her own physical body. The phrases like, "...that deny your reflection..." As used to denote the feeling the girl has as she looks at her fake hair colour in the mirror is a clear indication of her unsuccessful attempt in changing her identity.
In "the Child of America" the persona clearly yearns to have a connection with her actual culture. Although she accepts her new gotten identity as an American, she finds it hard to let go the cultures which are embedded in her flesh. She seems to consider learning English a tool of convenience and not out of outmost love for the language and the culture of the region. According to the persona, she is Spanish in her flesh since she grew up in the Caribbean Islands. However, she is more conscious of the English she speaks, and this, as she puts it she does with passion. To her, English it a tool and a craft. Seems like in her present society, she cannot survive without this language. Even though she has some Taina, African and European in her, the persona considers it impossible to enjoy these cultures since t here seems to exist no way back to these cultures. She seems to comforts herself by stating that she is none of the three cultures, seemingly to indicate her lack…