A Black Man Talks of Reaping -Analysis:
I have sown beside all waters in my day - He has experienced alot, and done what he has to do
I planted deep, within my heart the fear - He has memories of the fear his past caused him and will never forget them
That wind or fowl would take the grain away.
I planted safe against this stark, lean year. - They planted safely against the people who want to steal their crops.


I scattered seed enough to plant the land - There is so much he has done, but he cannot express all of it at once
In rows from Canada to Mexico
But for my reaping only what the hand
Can hold at once is all that I can show. - He works and works all over the land but really has nothing to show for it.

Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields - Now his children are going through the same experiences (racial judgement) as himself
My brother' sons are gathering stalk and root,
Small wonder then my children glean in fields
They have not sown, and feed on bitter fruits - His children get to eat and survive but the fruit that they feed on is inferior to whites

By:
Arna Bontemps:
1902-1973
-Made significant contribution to African American developement
-Earned a living as a teacher
-Wrote "God Sends Sunday" in 1931, was said to be the final product of the Harlem Renaissance monement


Summary:

Basically he gives us a description of the fear involved in the African American life. The lines "I planted deep, within my heart the fear that wind or fowl would take the grain away..." supports this assumption. "Wind" and "Fowl" have to be seen as symbols for the continued oppression of the Blacks. This shows the awarness of the fact that what was planted will easily be taken away by the Whites. Therefore we can see that all the effort that is made by the Blacks, all their hard work never guarantees them any success or even progress.

The following passage makes even clearer how difficult their situation really is, "I scattered seed enough to plant the land in rows from Canada to Mexico but for my reaping only what the hand can hold at once is all that I can show". These lines point out that there is no real balance between the effort they make and the gain they finally get out of it. So on one hand we are shown the word the African Americans have done to advance themselves and the work that is needed for them to reach "the hill", on the other hand there is the feeling of helplessness they are dealing with.
Somehow there doesn´t seem to be any justice at all. The last line "...they (his children) have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit" undermines the severity of their life and also shows that there is no progress visible not even for the next generation. So did black people at all have the chance to fulfill their American Dream at that time, did they have the opportunity to dream at all? It doesn´t seem so. Somehow there doesn´t seem to be equality of chances for everybody. How did an African American´s "American Dream " look like?


This poem is an extended metaphor comparing the difficulties of the farming life, with the difficulties faced in discrimination for their race.
EX: "They have not sown, and feed on bitter fruits" Here we see that the children were not there for the planting, but still eat bitter fruit. Then it's being compared to the fact that they were not present during the early times of racism yet they are still facing discrimination.


THEMES
Equality is denied: the children are being discriminated against simply because of race, therefore they are not seen as equal.
Obstacles: racism/discrimination

Through out this story the author uses the themes to describe the tough times that African Americans go through. In this she describes African American's as not an equal race to others.