In "I, Too" he makes it clear that the black man will sell or surrender his birthright to no one, for "I, too, sing America. . . .I, too, am America."
The poem thus asserts the right of the black man to be heard, as it does the right of the black man to be given the respect due to a race that has known "ancient, dusky rivers", for, the soul of the black man is no shallow sieve but "has grown deep like the rivers."
"Ballad of the Landlord" reminds the reader of Wole Soyinka's "Telephone Conversation", but Hughes' 'ballad' is somewhat darker in tone and manner than Soyinka's poem. In a rhythm that echoes black American speech rhythm as well as ballad meter, he sings:
Although we do not hear the landlord's voice, we gather that the landlord reminds the tenant that he owes him ten bucks; and the tenant forcefully refuses to pay the amount "till you fix this house up new." We are given to understand that the landlord then threatens the tenant with eviction orders, telling him that he would turn off the heating and throw his furniture in the street. When the tenant then shakes his fist in the landlord's face, all hell breaks loose, and we are treated to the landlord's shrieks:
Cle Police! Police!
Come and get this man!
He's trying to ruin the government
And overturn the land!
Clearly, things have got out of hand and we hear the "Copper's whistle", the "patrol bell" and the terse report, "Arrest. /Precinct Station./ Iron cell." The next day's newspapers complete the picture:
"MAN THREATENS LANDLORD/ TENANT HELD NO BAIL/ JUDGE GIVES 90 DAYS IN COUNTY JAIL." The 'ballad' ends with absolutely no need to underscore the injustice of what was surely a routine affair not that long ago.
This kind of discrimination was equally routinely doled out to others on the fringes of society, like gays and lesbians, and Hughes highlights their plight in "Cafe: 3 A.M." The poem is short enough to quote in full:
Detectives from the vice squad
with weary sadistic eyes
some folks say.
But God, Nature,
made them that way.
Police lady or Lesbian
The vice squad may appear weary, all right, but their defining streak is the combination of sadism and voyeurism in their makeup, which makes them prick their ears at the