I people, specifically black people, should strive

I will explicate Hughes’s interpretation of the Negro
artist’s background and identity to elucidate his analysis of how the racial
mountain stands in the way of true Negro art (91).


            The first
interpretation Hughes holds regarding the Negro artists is this notion that the
socioeconomic status of the black family plays a significant role in the
varying views towards the black society (91). As Hughes examines the racial
mountain, the obstacles and struggles Negro artists have to climb in order to
be comfortable in their own skin and be successful as a true artist, he
scrutinizes why a Negro poet would wish to be something he was not, a white
man. In the black middle class household, where said black poet grows up, the
idea of being black carries the heavy weight of several negative connotations,
where sayings like “don’t be like niggers” becomes a common teaching. The Negro
artists Hughes critiques knows nothing but that of white culture as he is a
part of the black middle class family where the black father and mother work
respectable jobs for rich white folks, the children go to mixed race schools,
and the family partakes in white culture when at home by reading white papers
and magazine (91). Does assimilating into white culture, going to a white
school and reading white based material, have an impact on the way blacks in
the middle class view being black and the culture that is expressed in art? The
poet’s desire to be a white poet rather than being a Negro poet derives from
his upbringing, where being “white” is constantly being reinforced as something
people, specifically black people, should strive towards being. When the black
community instills the idea that black children should perform in a way that
would allow them to be acknowledged by white society, they reinforce the idea
that Negro artists should not be proud to identify as being black, even if they
wish to do so. One cannot climb this racial mountain when they surround themselves
with conflicting views of their own culture from other black people. Views that
do not necessarily allow black people to view themselves as neither beautiful
nor worthy compared to the Caucasian patterns (91). Being raised in this
particular environment forms several self hatred notions for the Negro artists
about the black race.

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            The next
interpretation Hughes makes signifies the desire Negro artist subconsciously
hold to be white (91). This consists of Negro artists favoring white culture as
beautiful and worthy, while being ashamed of his culture and people, which he
never views in the same respect that he does the white culture. When Hughes
addresses the mentality the Negro artist applies towards being black, he
criticizes the notion of the artist disapproving his own identity not only as a
poet but also as a black man. When being black is seen as the opposite of
beauty and morality, how can the art created by Negro artists be beautiful and
true (91)? Hughes speaks of an artist that seems to never have had the
opportunity to comprehend how beautiful and unique every culture is, especially
the black culture. Instead he learns to be ashamed of being black and compromising
creating true black art. This poet does not learn to see the beauty in him or
the black race. Black children consistently observe the white race being
associated with beauty, morality, and money (91). If all they, black children,
observe is white people and white culture being praised for being white, why
would they not wish they were of the white race too? A Negro artist, who learns
that higher value and worth is placed upon white people, will never be able to
accept and value their identity as a black man. For a Negro artist, black art
cannot be seen as aesthetically beautiful when black people and culture are
seen as otherwise. Therefore, this racial mountain the Negro artist must climb,
will continue to be an obstacle for the Negro artist if they cannot accept and
be comfortable with being black. This idea of racial self-hatred because an
important theme through this paragraph.