Maya Angelou's Poetic Take on Equality

January 22, 2017

In high school I thought that, perhaps, I'd be the next Maya Angelou. I studied her poems before bed. I read them aloud into a tape recorder, and then I'd listen to myself...multiple times.  (I did the same thing with Mariah Carey's Butterfly CD; "Breakdown"--track #6--it was my boy problems anthem. Google it.)


Alas, I am not the next Maya (or Mariah, for that matter). But Angelou's  poems resonate with me now more than ever before. One in particular--"Human Family"--I've carried with me through college, first jobs, marriage, and motherhood. In it, Maya teaches us that we are all people, and far more alike than meets the eye. There are a bajillion women named Linda, for example, but they are each uniquely made by God.


"We seek success in Finland, are born and die in Maine. In minor ways we differ, in major we're the same," writes Maya. 


The premise is simple, yet so profound. And, I can't help but wonder how better off the world would be if we just lived these basic truths. 


Human Family
By: Maya Angelou 

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

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