Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Incident Poem


Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee;
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."

I saw the whole of Balimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.

Countée Cullen

When I started reading this poem, the first two lines made me think of a confederate soldier, why? It could be that I have gotten use to reading sentences like “driving through” “going through” “on the train to” -but never - Once riding in old Baltimore that conjured in my mind, a man on a horse. I was very surprised when I read the second stanza; I realize that this was the poet, speaking and remembering through the eyes of a child. The words made me feel small and sad.  The third Stanza made me ready to cry for the child that experienced such cruelty from another child who was taught that his behavior was normal.
In response to this poem in a more modern fashion I was greatly angered at the idea that such behavior was used against an innocent brown skinned child. A couple years ago I saw a news report were surrounding a coffin were several African American Women and Men; they were burying the word “Nigger” and hoped that once and for all this word would never be used for harm again. I know that many teens my age use this word as a greeting or nickname and they don’t mean it in an offensive way, but to use this word is still a disrespect and I hope that we can all refrain from using it.  
Incident by Countee Cullen is a very important poem because it shows us that there are still some people out there who’s minds aren’t “Colored-Skin” friendly and it sends us a warning to say, if you do meet someone who has been hurt by racism don’t try to imagine the pain they go through in remembering the word but offer them a smile instead of a harsh unnecessary word. 

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