Shadows of Prejudice: Racism explored in I know why the caged birds sings, by Maya Angelou

  • Ana Lara Alves Cutrim Unifesspa
  • Amanda L. Jacobsen de Oliveira Universidade Federal do Sul e Sudeste do Pará
Palavras-chave: Maya Angelou; I Know Why Caged Birds Sings; Racism; Sexuality; Intersexuality.


Maya Angelou's autobiography is marked by many accounts of episodes when she witnessed and experienced racism in its various forms. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings tells the stories of a little Maya discovering herself and discovering new airs as time passed and she moved from one house to another, to a young woman who was ahead of her time, getting to be the first black woman to command a cable car in San Francisco. Maya Angelou's autobiography was released in 1969, but it is still used as an object of study and analysis around the world nowadays, having in its composition subjects that still linger, such as racism, sexuality and feminism. Based on bibliographic research, this study seeks to organize a survey of Maya's autobiography, analyzing it under the perspectives of  racism, feminism and intersectionality. To make it possible, we are going to read authors like Patricia Collins, Helena Hirata, bell hooks and other authors, relating it to their books, taking into account the points highlighted above. Maya Angelou's 1969 book addresses the daily struggles of black women, addressing prejudice and promoting understanding. Through accounts, Angelou helps readers break out of their social bubbles, ensuring Maya's experiences are heard and prevents similar stories from happening again.


ANGELOU, Maya. I Know Why Caged Bird Sings. United States: Random House, 1969.

SILVA, Kleber Aparecido; GOMES, Maria Carmen Aires. Intersectionality, Epistemic Oppression and Resistance: An Interview with Patricia Hill Collins. Interviewed: Patricia Hill Collins. Trab. Ling. Aplic, Campinas, v. 5, n. 60, p. 328-337, jan./abr. 2021. Access in: Accessed in: 03 feb. 2023.

hooks, bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston, MA: South end Press, 1992.

DUNBAR, Paul Laurence. Lyrics of the Hearthside. New York, United States: Dodd, Mead Company, 1899. p.40.

HIRATA, Helena. Gênero, Classe, Raça – Interseccionalidade e Consubstancialidade das Relações Sociais. Revista de Sociologia USP, São Paulo, v. 26, n. 1, p. 61-73, 2014. Acess in: Accessed in: 03 feb. 2023.

NORMAN, Brian. The Dilemma of Narrating Jim Crow. The Cambridge Companion to American Civil Rights Literature. United States: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

RIBEIRO, Djamila. Pequeno Manual Antirracista. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2019.

WILLIANS, Dana A. Contemporary African American women writers. United States: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
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