• the thought fox

what happens to a dream deffered - langston hughes

Hughes wrote Harlem in 1951, at a time when discrimination and human rights violations against black people was institutionalised. 'Harlem' is a startlingly vivid portrayal of the shocking politics of identity that marred the American landscape. Hughes uses the metaphor of the unrealised American dream - the hopes and aspirations of a people who lived in constant fear and in thrall of their oppressors. He asks a very simple question - "What happens to a dream deferred?" The directness of this line of enquiry goes to the very heart of the experience of inequality. It locates discrimination at the centre of identity formation, and sees the seed of dissent as a direct reaction to the curbing of free-will; an expression of basic survival. For me, Hughes voice echoes across decades and time zones. I can hear his baritone echoing in the amphitheatre of my mind as I see the deferred dreams of young people in the country today: Rohit who dreamed of being a science writer like Sagan, Fathima whose brilliance as a learner became a cause for envy, Najeeb who was one of the only graduates in his district - the voices of these young people do not let us sleep. How many instituional murders and disappearances will it take for the country to wake up and smell the bigotry. We are possibly the only country in the world that is working overtime to snuff out the voices of its young dreamers, and shroud their aspirations in the smog of empty patriotic fervour. If there is any hope it is in the voices of young people today. In solidarity with the protestors at JNU, Kashmir, Hong Kong; protestors at Catalonia, France, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil; the climate change protestors, Palestinian freedom fighters, Lebanon and Iraq...

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