In "Still I Rise," the writer addresses 'you' several times in the poem. Who is meant by 'you' and how can we tell?

In "Still I Rise," Maya Angelou uses "you" repeatedly. Who is meant by "you"? Substantiate your answer. As we have seen, the speaker's tone in this poem is defiant. This means that she would not yield to any threat and would never be broken by the whites. Similarly, her sassiness has a double edge to it. On the one hand, it means her independent spirit and on the other it is a threat to the whites that she would not be intimidated by them and their bullying tactics. She is also very proud of herself as a woman who could become an object of attraction for men. She does not seem to care what the whites might say or do about it.

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Who is meant by 'you' in the poem "Still I Rise" by Maya Angelou is American society in general and the thoughts held by some in this society. She addresses, for example, those who record history, whether its academic historians with prejudices against black people; newspapers and magazines with the same intent, or anyone or any group that records in a malevolent way stories about black people and their particular organizations.

Angelou writes:

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

It is obvious in these lines that she is taking historians and others to task for their prejudicial writings and oral storytelling. These are those who report inaccurately and sometimes totally wrong the history and contemporary stories about black people and their life experiences.

She challenges these people, asking them (this subset of society) if her being sassy upsets them. She talks with confidence and lets these people (who subscribe to putting blacks down) know that she will not be defeated by them, that she will counter them confidently and win.

Maya Angelou also writes:

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

This refers to peoples detestable looks full of animosity towards blacks as they may pass a black person in the street, in a mall, or wherever. This also refers to the deaths that have occurred against the black race in the form of lynching parties and other heinous acts.

We can tell that Maya Angelou is addressing society in general in this poem, in that she does not single out any one individual or group particularly. The 'you' of the poem is a general, all-encompassing term meant for this specific prejudicial group in society.

Nonetheless, someone of this ilk who may read this poem, may take this 'you' personally. Therefore, as an alternative, the 'you' can in some cases be addressed to a specific reader. It depends on who the reader of the poem is, as others who read this poem may not feel it is addressed to them at all.

Hence, this is why overall, the poem is addressed to that entire segment of American society that has untoward feelings, thoughts and actions towards blacks and to their culture, and sometimes act wrongly towards black people because of these proclivities.

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In "Still I Rise," Maya Angelou uses "you" repeatedly. Who is meant by "you"? Substantiate your answer.

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...

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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?

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