Essex Hemphill’s XXIV

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Essex Hemphill’s XXIV In many of his writings, Essex Hemphill described the double alienation of being both an African American and a homosexual male in America. In his short poem XXIV, from his 1986 publication of his works, the aggressive but true manner in which he presents this taboo subject is no different. When first reading this poem I wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about. I could tell that if was homosexual in nature just from reading the background of the writer and the first and last couple lines in the poem. “In America I place my ring on your cock where it belongs.” And “In America place your ring on my cock where it belongs.” In my opinion this is kind of like a reference to a wedding ceremony where the wedding bands are exchanged. The cock to me represents a ring finger. As I read the poem more it seems as if Hemphill is confessing his love to someone of the same sex. At the time and even now today to a certain extent homosexuality was and is a kind of taboo subject, especially among the African American community. In lines five through nine “No horsemen baring terriers, no soldiers of doom will swoop in and sweep us apart.” He is basically telling his lover that there is no force in the world that could separate them from being together. In the twenty-first and twenty-second lines he says “Every time we kiss we confirm the new world coming.” Hemphill king of foresees the future because now in the present day homosexuality is rapidly becoming more accepted across the nation. Many states have even made it legal for same sex marriages. In conclusion, Essex Hemphill’s XXIV is a vow of unconditional love between partners. It shows that one persons love for someone else can pretty much over come any obstacle whether it be race of sexual

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