To those fixed on white,
White is white,
To those fixed on black,
It is the same,
And red is red,
Yellow, yellow-
Surely there are such sights
In the many colored world,
Or in the mind.
The strange thing is that
These people never see themselves
Or you, or me.

Are they not in their minds?
Are we not in the world?
This is a curious blindness
For those that are color blind.
What queer beliefs
That men who believe in sights
Disbelieve in seers.

O people, if you but used
Your other eyes
You would see beings.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Jean Toomer's poem People


  1. Helen Bhatia says:

    I teach in a school where there are some 23 different nationalities represented. In English we have been studying Racial Prejudice, I thought this poem was apt. A lot of my students have been posing similar questions about what is colour. I will read this poem tomorrow and see what they think. Any other suggestions?

  2. Neil says:

    What does this poem mean, and how does it relate to the time period of the 1920s and the Harlem Renaissance? Some analysis would be appreciated.

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