As a black woman, Angelou acknowledges a world that has tried (and still does try) to render people of color powerless. She says, in the last stanza, "I am the dream and the hope of the slave." Instead of being powerless, as slaves were, she is empowered. The slaves, who were powerless in the face of their white masters, were forced to live in huts and endure lives that were "rooted in pain." This narrator, however, has "rise[n]" from this powerlessness in the past, and she can now be "sassy" and confident and hopeful and strong and "haughty" and "sexy" all at once. She will not be made to cower in fear, despite the expectations of the white people around her. Instead, she "rise[s]" from a painful past, aware of white society's prejudices and expectations but living her life her own way, by her own rules: she may spring from a painful past, but she looks forward to a hopeful future.