“When I Think About Myself” By: Maya Angelou Published 1971
When I think about myself, I almost laugh myself to death, My life has been one great big joke, A dance that's walked A song that's spoke, I laugh so hard I almost choke When I think about myself. Sixty years in these folks' world The child I works for calls me girl I say 'Yes ma'am' for working's sake. Too proud to bend Too poor to break, I laugh until my stomach ache, When I think about myself. My folks can make me split my side, I laughed so hard I nearly died, The tales they tell, sound just like lying, They grow the fruit, But eat the rind, I laugh until I start to crying, When I think about my folks.
English was never my favorite subject in school. It was always Math and Chemistry, so I laugh from time to time that I wrote a book, AAA. As a matter of fact I used to think poetry was hopeless, I felt, “just say what you mean and mean what you say.” However, now I know there is power in poetry and for the next four weeks the B- RELYT Blog will take you through some of my absolute favorite poems and poets and how they relate to AAA.
I remember having the opportunity through my college student government position as Vice-President of APC( Activities Programming Commission) to bring Maya Angelou to our campus as a public speaker. It was the 90’s and Maya Angelou’s fee was $10,000.00 , first class flight and five star accommodations. Ten-thousand dollars seemed like a lot at the time, and it was, however for the legacy and impact Maya Angelou left this world I wish we had been able to host this event. “Hindsight is 20/20 and everything happens for a reason.” There is so much hope in poetry, saying things like, “Carpe Diem (Seize the Day), did not mean much in high school but mean everything as I live life.
How,“When I think about Myself” relates to AAA (Authenticity, Accountability & Ambitions- What America is Lacking through a Black Woman’s Eyes?)?
It is 2017 and 46 years later, the poem “When I think about myself,” still plagues the Black struggle. The most important two lines from AAA’s perspective are, “Sixty years in these folks' world, The child I works for calls me girl.” There is so much power in these two lines relating to the current state of Black people. The fact that this nanny is 60 years old and the child calls her girl, shows no level of respect and knowing your elders. And when Maya Angelou says, “in these folks world,” she is stating that everything was designed back then and even now for Black people to fail. Michael Moore said it best, “America is a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slavery.” The fact is, slaves built America and are the foundation for it’s wealth.
The world belongs equally to all human beings. AAA will take you through Black History, my personal experiences/failures and solutions. The power in poetry comes from each individuals interpretation, dialogue and inner voice. Knowing the true history of America should increase Black self-pride. Knowing the truth will also make this world more Authentic, Accountable and therefore our collective world (Blacks, Mexicans, Latinos, White, Asians, Iranians…all races) an equally Ambitious place. I want you to know that my book, AAA and my non-profit, The B-Relyt Organization are both here for all human beings. Therefore when Black people think about ourselves as equal people in America, we all need to be mindful that Black people have a lot of work to do. And though I did not write poetry, the dialogue that will evoke from AAA will be mind blowing.
Another Perspective on “When I think about Myself”
“In this poem, Angelou presents the perspective of an aging maid to make a statement about Blacks surviving in a world dominated by whites. The central theme of the poem is self-pride that prevents one from losing one’s will in spite of experiences involving degradation. The narrator has lived for more than sixty years in “these folks’ world” and now she chooses to laugh at her painful past, albeit the laughter chokes, aches and makes her cry. When I Think About Myself is perhaps the most famous poem from Angelou’s first poetry collection Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (https://learnodo-newtonic.com/maya-angelou-famous-poems)”.
Maya Angelou will be the first feature for Black History Month, February 2018 in B-relyt’s Blog.
The B-relyt Blog Category for “When I think About Myself”: AAA