Maya Angelou uses the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ fifteen times in her poem “Still I Rise.” “You” certainly stands for the white oppressors of the black people. The fact that Angelou was a black woman and her identifying herself as “a black ocean” and “the dream and the hope of the slave” leave no doubt that the ‘you’ in the poem is nobody else but the whites who subjugated and tyrannized blacks.
Angelou was a prominent African-American writer whose poems and autobiographical works could well be read as her defense of black culture. Among black literary figures and social activists, she had been one of the most vocal proponents of black rights.
“Still I Rise” can be read as both a personal and a political poem. It had first appeared in the collection published as And Still I Rise in 1978.
It must be remembered that African-American Civil Rights Movement had led to passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This legislation outlawed discrimination based on color, religion or sex. This was a great victory for the African-Americans.
This poem records the triumphant mood of the blacks. The speaker sounds extremely buoyant, high-spirited, confident, fearless and determined.
Thus, when Angelou says ‘you’ in the following lines, she directly refers to the whites who are not really happy and comfortable seeing the blacks 'rise:'
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Does my sexiness upset you?