Hey y’all, here’s a snazzy little link to my podcast about William Blake’s two versions of The Chimney Sweeper from Songs of Innocence & Experience.
In the poem “The Little Black Boy” by William Blake, a black child is telling his story about how he understands his identity and his connection with God. This poem can be seen as ahead of its time because the topic of racism was being mentioned and had a positive spin. Often racism was’t seen as a problem, rather it was seen as normal. White people understood that there were people of different races, but came to the fact that some races were superior then others. If you were white then there should be no worry about racism because it didn’t affect you directly. This can be still be said for today’s age. White people understand that racism is still a problem and can see the impact, but choose to ignore it because it has no affect on them.
In the opening stanza the little boy explains how his “soul is white:/White as an angel” (Blake 120). This is a great example of color symbolizism and demonstrates how white is often looked at as pure. Angels are God’s messengers so therefore are serving God. If the angels are white then they must be good and therefore white would be good and pure. The little boy however is black, so therefore does that mean he is the opposite of pure? He has decided that there is a loophole to this. He has discovered that God’s love is just to bright for him. This can become a worry though because does this mean that the boy will not be able to handle the love? The boy believes God’s love is to bright for him, which means maybe he won’t be able to handle it. This is concerning because in the poem the boy seems to have a positive outlook on his skin tone, but this could be a belief that white people believed. The little boy seems to have characteristics of racism directed at himself. He understands that he is different and seems to be bringing himself down because of the color of his skin. Previously it was said that different races are higher up in society, and if this was a reason why then white people would feel that they are able to love God equally with no pain or delusion.
Even though the boy’s soul is pure, his skin tone is dark. Later in the poem the boy explains “these black bodies and this sun-burnt face/ Is but a cloud” and that the cloud can be moved” (121 Blake). The cloud is representing how his skin color does not matter because the cloud can easily be moved to discover sunshine from God. The sunshine behind the cloud would be his soul and his purity. His skin color is but a representation of how God loves him. If people tried they could easily over look the color of his skin and see that he was pure inside and that he appreciated God. Because of the intensity of the love and rays God has given him, he has been burned by the beams which caused his skin to be black. This helps build his relationship with God because it demonstrates the love they both have for each other. Even though the boy may not have the skin “as an angel” God’s love for him has expanded to his soul (Blake 121). During this time period being a darker skin tone was seen as a negative and put people of diversity in a less place, but recently people of diversity have the advantage of being different and people are striving to be part of this community.
(image source Academic Help)
In the video attached here Shawn’s House is explaining a controversial subject that has recently been glorified by Jeffree Starr. Starr has been known for his racial comments that he makes on his YouTube videos and recently has took action on them. Starr is a makeup artist that usually focuses on different brands and gives advice to his audience about how to apply makeup. Starr recently came out with a new campaign for his own makeup brand where he used a half Mexican and half South East Asian model named Nikta Dragun. Dragun also has some popularity on Youtube for being a transgender spokes model and giving tutorials about makeup and hair. In the campaign photograph Dragun is presumably much darker then her past photos and has been accused of blackface. Blackface is “the makeup used by a non black performer playing a black role” (Webster 1). Starr has not come out with a reason why he used Dragun for his campaign, though one theory is that he wanted diversity in his photos. The public has stripped this argument down though because he could have easily found a black model to pose in his campaign. Dragun has admitted that the photograph was of her with a spray tan, making people wonder if this was purposely done. Dragun has no past history of racial comments, but because of her association with Starr her reputation has gone down.
In the first photo below you will find an image of how Dragun usually presents herself. In this photo she is seemingly white and shows a natural skin makeup. The photo below this illustrates what the campaign was and how she was portrayed. She is seemingly more tan and as nearly changed her racial identity. This connects back to the little boy because she has changed her appearance to represent two races. Would the little boy think she was loved by God? In the little boy’s reasoning if a person is white they are pure on the inside and outside, but what if they are both? The blackfaced photo would mean that she was pure on the outside and that her skin was burned by God’s love. If she could so easily switch her race that means that she is only pure on the inside and is seemingly only loved by God immensely at certain points.
(image source Nikita Dragun Archives)
(image source Nicola Dall’Asen)
In “The Little Black Boy” racism is seen as a way of connecting with God and stating that there is a difference that needs to be brought up concerning race. The little boy is almost being racism to himself because he is pointing out the difference of his skin color compared to the English boy. In the YouTube video about blackface, a reference to college students is brought up and explained that students don’t seem to understand there is a problem with racism. In the hyperlink here you will find a more specific example. A white female college student recently posted a photo of her with a black facemask on with the filter of Black History Month. She is not the only example and many other colleges have started to enforce social media because of this. This particular poem was written in 1789 when racism was extreme and people often chose to not speak of it. In the year 2017 racism is still an issue, if not larger. The boy in the poem had an almost positive outlook on his darker skin tone. He believed that his dark skin was a connection to God and that it demonstrated his love for him. In the year 2017 racism is often ignored because people don’t want to discuss the problems. Avoiding the topic makes the problem worse because people will be uneducated and preform actions that they believe are acceptable when they are really not. Even though white people are ignoring the problems of racism, they are accepting the diversity and beauty people of color offer. The white community needs to accept that diversity and racism don’t go hand in hand, you can’t have one without the other. Racism will always be a problem and we are only running against time to stop it.
“Blackface.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
CULTURAL APPROPRIATION? Dir. Shyleen Shawn. Perf. Shyleen Shawn. Shawn’s House. N.p., 5 Mar. 2017. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.
Dall’Asen, Nicola. “Jeffree Star Responds to Accusations of Blackface in His New Campaign.” Revelist.com. Revelist, 2 Mar. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Greenblatt, Stephen, and Meyer Howard. Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. D. New York: Norton, 2013. Print.
“Nikita Dragun Archives.” Transgender News. Entertainment & More – TRANZGENDR. Tranzgender, 07 Nov. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
“The Little Black Boy: Free Poetry Analysis Samples and Examples.” AcademicHelp.net. Academic Help, 23 Mar. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Wiedemann, KCRG-TV9 Katie. “Apology from University of Dubuque Student Who Posted ‘black Face’ Picture.” KCRG | Cedar Rapids, Iowa Content. Your 24 Hours News Source, 1 Mar. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
Reflecting upon a day well spent,
Observing daffodils, and grand mountains, as I went,
I felt a strong sense of emotion, as I saw nature, in all of its glory,
Embodying Wordsworth’s rules, as depicted in this bedtime story.
The Romantic Period, as you soon will learn,
Saw numerous literary forms, concepts, and writers, including lots of poetry.
Lasting from 1789, with the French Revolution, until 1837, when Queen Victoria claimed the throne, one may discern,
The Romantic Period was a significant era in history.