DON’T LET THE SUN SET ON YOU

“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.

 

3 thoughts on “DON’T LET THE SUN SET ON YOU”

  1. I agree with your perspective on this quote so much. Being a POC is already hard enough so add on being gay? Oof we have it hard. Your last line is so powerful.

  2. I also wrote about this poem and I agree with your interpretation. What I could add to the intersectionality that you reference when it comes to being black and queer is a part of my own experience that connected me with the poem. I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve never dealt with such blatant racism as the sign but I can say but I have known how it feels to not belong and there are definitely parallels between that not just for the separate groups of black people and gay people but for the people who are part of both.

  3. When I read this piece, I had interpreted “don’t let the sun set on you” as it was actually more dangerous for Black people to be out at night in this place. I think the overall message you described of this sign threatening Black people for taking up space in this evidently white supremacist-centric part of America still rings true, especially in the way Jones chose to structure these words amidst this poem. I wonder, however, how different interpretations of whether night or day is safest has different implications for how we understand the context of this piece. As we’ve discussed in class, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to interpret poetry, but I am curious about how this nuance impacts the overall tone of the piece.

Leave a Reply