Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Self-Esteem in Hayes' "Shafro"

In Terrance Hayes' poem "Shafro", the theme of celebrities inevitably holding the burden of being a role model for their fans is explicated. An ordinary black male (deduced from Hayes' word choice "black halo") aspires to have the confidence that the media portrays Shaft to have ("three movies & a brief TV series"). Shaft is not only described to be this action-packed individual, but one also of sexual appeal, "always a woman sleeping next to him."

Despite an ordinary black male such as the narrator obtaining the physical characteristics similar to Shaft, there are some situations where the possession of these characteristics does not change who he is. The narrator says, "I keep the real me tucked beneath a wig" and states later on that "I grow beautiful as the theatre dims." It seems by these two statements that he cannot truly express himself when in the "spotlight" of the public, only being able to portray what he desires to be from other individuals. However, when the attention is directed elsewhere, the true being of the narrator can come to shine. It is ironic (a sort of play on words) how when the spotlight that the public places on individuals disappears, that time is when the individual really shows their true being. The irony, more explicitly, is the drastic effect that this public spotlight has on the way an individual portrays himself/herself to the public.

To bring this discussion back to the context of the poem, Shaft may very well be a completely different individual than the media portrays him to be. Thus, the failure of true confidence comes about in the narrator's thoughts, shown in the following excerpt: "Bits of my courage flake off like dandruff."

In summary, though a black individual is shown to be heroic and successful, the young black public gets the wrong idea of how to go about achieving these qualities. I say young black public, because I feel adults would know that such meager actions as growing one's hair out will not lead to the obtainment of these qualities. However, the adults may still be swayed to believe other "false" actions will lead to these qualities.What are your thoughts on the subject?

Terrance Hayes' poem can be accessed here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/shafro/

1 comment:

  1. I think this is very true. The media has helped make this world very materialistic. If people see stars wearing certain clothing, they automatically associate that type of clothing with being cool. But i do think this is changing a lot now a days, but things portrayed in media is changing as well. Before rappers bragged about having certain things to show their status. Now rappers brag about being individuals, and having their own style which is the new trend in the younger generation. I think people will continue to follow what they see on tv. this is all a part of people's need to fit in with society.


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