Thank you for sharing this! Reading Maya Angelou changed my life. Despite theo various literary critiques of her work, I believe she is one of the most powerful writers of the twentieth century.
When I was a child racism was so denied, so covered up and ignored. Certainly with the civil rights movement and many other writers and activists speaking out it was in the process of change. But in rural North Carolina, in the 1970’s, no one explained how people treating others moment to moment related to larger social issues. Racism to me was the KKK, the churches in our small town being completely but apparently voluntarily, segregated. ( and being neither black nor white we didn’t belong anywhere! ) And the obvious idiots who shouted racial slurs at school or from passing cars.
I don’t know if young people growing up in the information age where everything is knowable just a finger tap away, can relate to how confusing and dark the world could be for children growing up essentially in enforced silence on certain issues.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings taught me that there were names for and meanings behind people’s seemingly pointless cruelties. Racism. Sexism. Hate.
It wasn’t that we didn’t know about racism, or sexism. It’s that she showed me how the moment to moment, daily indignities were not my fault. That many people experienced these things and they were ordinary good people. That the nastiness originated from a culture of control not from those being treated badly being in some way genuinely a problem for others.
It was for me as if she had painted the dark sky blue.
I have always loved history and biography and I’m so grateful for these months when we are reminded to learn more about those who came before us.