How does Cliff introduce racism in her poem?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cliff introduces the topic area of racism early on in the poem.  From both the title and the opening line, this focus becomes evident.  One can see the title as reflective of the discussion of racism.  The "veil" is a concept advocated in W.E.B. Du Bois' work, The Souls of Black Folk.  Du Bois argues that African- Americans live in a symbolic veil, a reflection of "the color line" that divides White and African- American culture.  The veil that African- Americans metaphorically wear enables them to see a world that is not theirs to have while existing in a world that is theirs filled with denial of opportunity and voice.  This concept is present in the title of the poem, indicating that racism is the focus point of the poem.

The opening line of the Cliff's poem introduces the concept of racism that will guide the poem. It is the official introduction to the analysis of racism in the poem.   "Color ain't no faucet" illuminates the idea of how racial identity is not something that can be chosen when it is a part of consciousness.  The concept of racial identity is not something that one can choose to "turn it off and on."  From the opening line, Cliff is able to introduce the wide discourse of topics that are involved in seeking to understand racism and racial identity in the modern setting.  It is through the early introduction from both the the first line and the title that one can clearly grasp the topic area of racism that is so important to the poem's meaning and Cliff's intent.

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