The people we surround ourselves with have an influence over our thoughts and our actions. They can build us up, tear us down, inspire or inhibit us. Sometimes, those we do not even know can say or do something that will have an impact on us for the rest of our lives, good or bad. One of the biggest groups of people that have been directly affected by the actions of others is the African American race. For centuries, they were in the hands of the white man, as slaves. Forced and brought over from their homelands of Africa, and were subjected to hard labor and physical and emotional abuse. Even after slavery was abolished in the 1860’s, African Americans were still not seen as equals. They would have many years of persecution and segregation ahead of them. The types of treatment they received, vicious or subtle, were unfair as well as psychologically and physically damaging. It is true that once something is said, you cannot take it back. One word can stick with you for an entire lifetime. The poem “The Incident” by Countee Cullen demonstrates how one word has the power to affect someone greatly and can change the way they perceive the world by using the innocent narrative of a little black boy in a new town. The feature film Men of Honor, based upon a true story, shows the trials and hardships of another African American trying to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy Master Diver using negativity from those who opposed him, because of his race, to push himself harder. The structured groups of the Navy, family, and race help to illustrate the way it was like to live and try to move up in the world as an African American.
“Once riding in old Baltimore, heart-filled, head-filled with glee” (Cullen). The poem opens with the narrator, an eight year old boy, expressing his joy being in Baltimore, maybe for the first time. Being in new places and experiencing new things brings a sense of elation and happiness that can radiate from your eyes and face,
Cited: Cullen, Countee. "The Incident." The Hudson Book of Poetry: 150 Poems worth Reading. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 101. Print. Men of Honor. Dir. George Tillman, Jr. Perf. Cuba Gooding Jr. and Robert DeNiro. 20th Century Fox Film Corp., 2000. DVD. "Truman Library: Desegregation of the Armed Forces Online Research File." Truman Library: Desegregation of the Armed Forces Online Research File. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. <http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/desegregation/large/index.php?action=chronology>.