Eight days after the horrifying attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, today’s Thoughtful Thursday offers “America”, by the great African-American poet Claude McKay (1889-1948).  In this poem, McKay notes the difficulty Black Americans have with balancing their love for this country with their knowledge of the way that it has treated them. This balance was particularly challenging last Wednesday, as we watched the Trump MAGA supporters storm and loot the Capitol and threaten our legislators with limited police intervention, which was such a stark contrast with the way that Black Lives Matter protests were handled several months ago.  And yet we recoil with horror to see symbols of our nation destroyed.

We’ll be talking about how to talk with children of varying ages about the current political crisis in an upcoming post.  But parents of high schoolers may want to use this poem with them as a way into one of the many conversations we are sure you are having.


Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
Claude McKay