Blake Calling Out the Racists

William Blake’s poem “Little Black Boy” is fairly controversial for its time. Written during the 1700s when slavery was still legal, this poem states incredibly progressive views. The poem insinuates that in the eyes of God, all are equal no matter the race. Blake writes, “Look on the rising sun: there God does live”, and later refers to “black bodies and sun-burnt face” implying that blacks are closer to God, and writes that the English have pale and white skin (“I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bear”) making them further from God. Not only is this a criticism of slavery, but a direct call-out to the Christian church for largely excluding blacks. Historically, the Church has not taken kindly to minorities, and Blake makes a different assumption that perhaps whites are not the “elite” and chosen few that earn God’s love. A bold move for the time, I applaud Blake for his efforts, considering the time period that he wrote this in. Blake’s opinions were not widely-spread at that time, since the movement for abolition was barely starting. “Little Black Boy” has a melancholy tone that recognizes the harsh life that slaves endured, a progressive opinion that I am sure did not win Blake much favor. As a lover of politically-correct and social-justice related things, this poem warmed my heart to read.

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