Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Literature, Poetry, Maya, Poem, Sociology, Women, Color, Skin

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/21

Maya Angelu’s Still I Rise

Every writer writes for a purpose. Every author has a reason for a story. And every poet writes of something that usually moves them. This is the overall picture in Maya Angelu’s poem entitled Still I Rise. This is a story about a poet who struggles to meet the social pressure and injustices of her time. And amidst the challenges and adversities has managed to survive and successfully claims that she will not be broken nor will she be defeated no matter how many times she is brought down by society. In this paper, the author will attempt to offer a critical analysis of the poem according to three social injustice—sexism, racism and criticism. This paper will try to offer an analysis based on the author’s like experiences and the general environment from when the poem was written and the period from when the poet lived. It is the belief of the author of this paper that by reviewing the poet’s life experiences and the environment from when she lived, important insights can be drawn as to the general mood and the inspiration that has motivated the author.

Maya Angelu was born in the year 1928. It was a year marked significantly by equality of gender. While it was the trend during the early part of the 1920’s, it was not exactly felt by majority of women. The 1920’s marked the beginning of gender equality. Women were slowly awarded with rights like voting, education and social activist rights. However, despite the superficial awarding of rights it was not so much felt by how women were treated in society. The social stigma that women are subordinate to men still prevails in almost every aspect of life. Society is rule a patriarchal system that gives men the impression that they are the stronger gender and that they possess the upper hand against women.

In Maya Angelu’s poem Still I Rise, the poet said the passages,

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
These passages were reflections of how women were treated. They had to walk behind a man with their head bowed down because they were forbidden to look straight into the eyes of men. Meeting men’s gaze or walking ahead of a man is a sign of insubordination, disrespect or arrogance because women were not supposed to lead, more so they are not supposed to stare because it would mean that they are challenging the men’s authority .

On Racism

Maya Angela was an African-American decent. The color of her skin added to the many limitations of her being as what society dictates. Being black, she carried the social stigma that comes along with the color of her skin. She carried that stigma that was attributed to every single colored person who lived before her. The color of her skin was associated to slavery. This was a social imprint that has been passed through from generations to generation suggesting that anyone who is black is a slave and should rightfully be treated as a second class citizen . In the beginning stanza of the poem Angelu opened the poem by saying,

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Maya Angelu seemed to warn anyone who fabricates story about her people that no matter how much they put them down or malign them the people of color will continue to prove their worth. They will continue to show that the color of their skin has nothing to do with their intelligence or their skills or their ability to succeed.

On Criticism

She was always been masked by the color of her skin and her accomplishments has been tainted by the impression that apart from being a woman, she was also Black. Thus, it can be said that Maya Angelu’s life was the central theme of the poem. This assumption was drawn from a passage in the poem that says,

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise?
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
This was in reference to a pivotal part in Maya Angelu’s life and her marriage. It was assumed that her marriage ended because of her career as a dancer . Her passion and her audacity was believed to upset her husband because she was gaining recognition for her art, something that her husband was not ready to accept.


Maya Angelu’s poem epitomizes how a woman of color, amidst the judgment and false accusations made upon her will continue to prove society that she will succeed. This brilliant artist did not allow the social stigma, the social injustice and unfair treatment dictates her fate. Instead, she used every single criticism to rise and prove everyone that the social stigma can never put a person down.

Works Cited

Angelu, Maya. Poem Hunter: Still I Rise. 7 August 2014. Web. 16 March 2015.
Johnson, Claudia. Racism in Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Press, 2008. Print.
Lockard, Craig. Societies, Networks, and Transitions: A Global History. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2014. Print.
McPherson, Dolly. Order Out of Chaos: The Autobiographical Works of Maya Angelou. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1990. Print.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 21) Free On Sexism Essay Example. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-on-sexism-essay-example/
"Free On Sexism Essay Example." WePapers, 21 Dec. 2020, https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-on-sexism-essay-example/. Accessed 28 March 2023.
WePapers. 2020. Free On Sexism Essay Example., viewed March 28 2023, <https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-on-sexism-essay-example/>
WePapers. Free On Sexism Essay Example. [Internet]. December 2020. [Accessed March 28, 2023]. Available from: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-on-sexism-essay-example/
"Free On Sexism Essay Example." WePapers, Dec 21, 2020. Accessed March 28, 2023. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-on-sexism-essay-example/
WePapers. 2020. "Free On Sexism Essay Example." Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. Retrieved March 28, 2023. (https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-on-sexism-essay-example/).
"Free On Sexism Essay Example," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 21-Dec-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-on-sexism-essay-example/. [Accessed: 28-Mar-2023].
Free On Sexism Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/free-on-sexism-essay-example/. Published Dec 21, 2020. Accessed March 28, 2023.

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