Discuss way you personally connect with this poem.

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The poem "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou speaks out against oppression and injustice and proclaims the importance of confidence and self-respect. Although it is written from the perspective of the African-American experience, its lessons can apply to anyone who has been oppressed, bullied, humiliated, or abused.

The "you" that the poem addresses stands for the oppressors, whether individuals, groups, or governments, that attempt to subjugate those different than themselves. Angelou writes that even if she is trodden down in the dirt, and even if people in power rewrite history books to suit their own lies, she will remain empowered and full of hope. Even if oppressors try to break her and make her droop her shoulders, bow her head, and lower her eyes, she will stay sassy and defiant. Her individuality and empowerment makes her feel as joyful as if she were rich and owned oil wells or gold mines. Hatefulness manifested by evil looks and evil words have no affect on her joyfulness and her sexuality. Even though her past is full of shame, pain, and fear, she has left all this behind and has burst forth into daylight.

To understand how you personally connect with this poem, read it over carefully and consider your individual circumstances. Have you ever been bullied, oppressed, humiliated, or abused in the past, or do you know anyone else to whom these things have happened? If so, then the poem applies to you personally. You can take Angelou's words as your own and use them as a source of empowerment. Imagine that it is you speaking these words instead of the poet, and write down how it makes you feel. If you don't think that the words apply directly to you, think of a friend or someone you have read about, and apply the poem to their situation. Either way, the important thing is that you share your own thoughts and reactions to Angelou's words.

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