By Langston Hughes
The speaker addresses a basic truth ofsocial perception and individual identity: What you see on the outside does not always show what is happening on the inside. A smile does not necessarily express happiness or pleasure. Sometimes a smile is a mask used to hide thepain within. The speaker does this by using an example of American entertainment. The minstrel show, also known as the Blackface tradition. In this tradition men and women put burnt coal on their face to look darker and would act as slaves who were living happily while in reality the slaves did live such a happy and joyous life. This goes directly with the poem.