“NIGGER, DON’T LET THE SUN SET ON YOU”
“YOU BETTER RUN
IF YOU CAN READ
THIS SIGN” (19)
These passages are messages written on signs probably in some city or town where black people and white people were divided and did not share their spaces. They are written in capital letters on purpose to draw the reader’s attention and give more importance to the warnings that the message implies. Another aspect that I notice after our debate in class is that there are big spaces between each clause in order to give more significance and suspense to the words that we read.
The objective of these passages is to warn black people that they cannot be outside during the day and live a normal life with whites. Although it is implicit, it can be understood that if a black person can read one of these signs, it means that it is daytime, it is sunny, and there may be a consequence such a prison or even death.
When I read this poem by Saeed Jones, I thought of Audre Lorde in “Growing Up Gay/Growing Up Lesbian” because she speaks about the feeling of understanding herself as member of a sub-society, that is to be black, and in her case also gay. While reading this poem, I could understand a little bit more Audre’s words since we are talking about a society that has as roots the discrimination and segregation of minorities. As the years go by people started questioning these kind of social rules, and we could overcome little by little those situation. However, although the situation has improves, we must keep working on this issue because it is not over.
What I am really trying to say here is that I think these lines are a representation of extreme discrimination against a minority and this kind of situations are part of our history as society. We must not forget it. May it never be repeated.