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Although of course we cannot confuse the speaker in a poem with the author, it's not hard to imagine that Hughes draws on his own experience with racism in Ameria when he speaks of how some Americans are seen as less important, 'the darker brother,' sent to eat in the kitchen. The poem feels immensely personal also because it is set in the home, the kitchen and dining room, the sites of so much family interaction over meals. We can assume that Hughes speaks of a political future in America, when everyone has a place at the table, but the personal takes the primary role as he concludes, "Besides, they'll see how beautiful I am," thus, perhaps, healing some small part of the injustices and pain of the past.
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