Langston Hughes: “Looky here, America”

 

 

 

 

 

Beaumont to Detroit: 1943
by Langston Hughes

Looky here, America
What you done done
Let things drift
Until the riots come.

Now your policemen
Let your mobs run free.
I reckon you don’t care
Nothing about me.

You tell me that hitler
Is a mighty bad man.
I guess he took lessons
From the ku klux klan.

You tell me mussolini’s
Got an evil heart
Well, it mus-a-been in Beaumont
That he had his start

Cause everything that hitler
And mussolini do,
Negroes get the same
Treatment from you.

You jim crowed me
Before hitler rose to power
And you’re STILL jim crowing me
Right now, this very hour.

Yet you say we’re fighting
For democracy
Then why don’t democracy
Include me?

I ask you this question
Cause I want to know
How long I got to fight
BOTH HITLER – AND JIM CROW

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (p.281)

I was reminded of this poem recently during a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Hughes wrote it in response to the white nationalist riots that occurred in the summer of 1943 in Beaumont, Texas, and Detroit, MI.–Rose

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