Maya Angelou’s Growing Up Poor, Black and Female
African American literature is the literature of pain and survival, of triumphs and defeats, of fears and dreams, and of struggle for freedom, equality and identity, produced by the oppressed ones. Black women have used life writing to discover or assert their identity. As they record their experiences they see the critical paths established by the oppressive forces of racism, classicism and sexism. In exploring what it means to be poor, black and female, they present mirror images of ‘self’ and the ‘other’ to the world. Within the marginalized blacks in America, women are at triple disadvantage. Being poor, black and female makes them most vulnerable and easy target for the male dominated community. Maya Angelou’s life writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) tells the story about a black female’s hard life growing up in the American South during the 1930s and 40s. In it Angelou recounts the events of her life in chronological order amidst the racist and sexist American society. She portrays most of her difficult life events from the age of three to sixteen in her life writing showing her hard upbringing, poverty, racism and sexual abuse.
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