Maya is black. Seems simple enough, right? Not so much. Racism is the cage around the caged bird, and it means not getting jobs, not getting medical treatment, and even the risk of lynching. The incidents of racism in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings are illogical and seem at first like insurmountable obstacles. But by the end of the book, our main squeeze learns how to fight back in her own way. Standing on the shoulders of black women before her, Maya is able to lay the path for the Civil Rights Movement to come.
Racism is the biggest obstacle that Maya faces in her childhood—even more than sexism or poverty.
Even though many black people resent the impact of racism on their lives, they don't do much to change things.