Social Themes

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Among Sanchez’s frequent themes in both poems and prose pieces is the denunciation of self-destructive behavior in the African American community. “After Saturday Nite Comes Sunday,” in Homegirls and Handgrenades, shows the pain and poverty a man’s narcotics addiction causes his wife and children. Despite the power of their love for him, the man cannot be saved, yet the poet makes clear that such tragedies are merely the symptoms of a deeper problem—the lack of self-esteem caused by a system of racial oppression. This theme is often also presented in political terms with a sense of deep compassion for all those who suffer. The poem “MIAs” speaks of blacks detained without bail by the South African police, the “disappeared” villagers of El Salvador’s repressive government, and the string of abductions and murders of African American children from the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. The poet declaims a sense of solidarity with all these victims and ends on a note of determined resistance to terrorism:

let there be everywhere our actions.breathing hope and victoryinto their unspoken questionssummoning the dead to life againto the hereafter of freedom.

Sanchez’s ecumenical social consciousness is displayed in Under a Soprano Sky with...

(The entire section is 565 words.)