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Incident Summary & Analysis
by Countee Cullen

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Countee Cullen, one of the best known poets of the Harlem Renaissance, published "Incident" in his first collection, Color, in 1925. The poem recalls a childhood "incident" in which the speaker's life is forever altered when another child uses a racist slur against him in public. The poem's carefree beginning contrasts with the sudden, horrific reality of this moment, which intrudes on the speaker's otherwise happy memory of this time in his life. Through this "incident," the poem illustrates the visceral horror and lasting impact of racism.

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