In light of news reports of increased anti-Asian American violence, our Big Read team can’t help but reflect back on our 2017 Big Read program with Julia Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine and the powerful discussions we had about prejudice and discrimination both in our nation’s past and present.

Along with Otsuka’s book and our conversations around the history of Asian Americans in the United States, we thought of this poem and wanted to share it with you:

I, Too by Langston Hughes.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

Hughes, Langston. “I, Too.” Poetry Foundation, 2002, Accessed 18 03 2021.

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