Happy Black History Month!

Today, February 1, 2021, is Black History Month. Before there was Black History Month, there was Black History Week. Actually, then it was called “Negro History Week.”

In 1926 (the year my father was born), historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” The second week was chosen, symbolically, in that it was the same week of the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Black History Month has its origins with Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, from January 2 to February 28, 1970. Six years later, during America’s Bicentennial, President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every endeavor throughout our history.” Indeed, Mr. President, there is no American history without Black American history!

The counterpoint to the “too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americas” is the writing of history that celebrates Christopher Columbus and the Confederacy.

It is not revisionist history to include history intentionally left out or slanted to make villians out to be heroes. In fact, in what country in the annals of history have rebels who started a Civil War and lost it are continuously honored with statues and memorials for more than 150 years after their defeat? Only in America!

I have read De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and The Federalist Papers as well as “American history” that has left out the accomplishments of Black Americans. But I have also read W.E.B. DuBois and Carter G. Woodson, exemplary, exacting Black scholars. On the other hand, how many white students of American history have been introduced to the works of Black scholars?

If white poeple are looking for a starting point to begin “racial reconciliation,” then reading the works of Black scholars like W.E.B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, J.A. Rogers, Chancellor Williams, and Lerone Bennett Jr. would be a good place to begin. Reading them would begin to change the mythical American narrative.

In his seminal book, Carter G. Woodson wrote about The Miseducation of the Negro. Granted, many “Negroes” have been and continue to be miseducated, because they have been “educated” by white “educators” or Eurocentric Black “educators.” Nonetheless, one could make a greater argument that generally speaking white Americans are even more “miseducated” than Black folks.

A toast to inclusive as well as accurate history!

Happy Black History Month!

Read my award-winning epic poem, based on Black History.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A Time magazine article, “‘Hate Never Disappears. It Just Takes a Break for a While.’ Why the U.S. Capitol Attack Makes Holocaust Remembrance Day More Important Than Ever,” reveals why we should be deeply concerned about the January 6th Trump-inspired Insurrection.

As I have written elesewhere, one of the most disturbing of so many disturbing images during the January 6th Insurrection was the transformation of the Insurrectionist mob into a lynch mob, chanting, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!” The second most disturbing scene was one of the Capitol Hill Insurrectionists wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” tee shirt. Really?

“Camp Auschwitz” was a concentration camp that systematically contributed to murdering millions of innocent people, mostly Jewish, for the “crime” of being Jewish, lest we forget.

What may be just as disturbing, if not more so, were the Jewish people who participated in the January 6th Insurrection. I wonder if one Jewish person saw his or her fellow insurrectionist wearing the “Camp Auschwitz” tee shirt. I have almost always expressed my adminration for the Jewish Nazi Hunters. They had a fundamental understanding that you don’t let evil walk away from its crimes. Ever! No matter how much time has passed. Never!

As we once again begin to hear the “Never Trumpers” language seep into the conversation in order to give Trump a pass at his second impeachment trial, I think of the words of Nobel laureate, Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camp survivor, Elie Wiesel: “Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.” The U.S. Senate Republican Caucus, prepping and rationalizing to give Trump a pass on procedural grounds in his second impeachment trial, is displaying this evil indifference.

Not only should all the insurrectionists be brought to justice, but also Trump. If the Senate fails to acquit him at his second impeachment trial, then the Office of the Attorney General should file criminal charges against him.

When people become U.S. citizens, they take an oath to defend the Constitution and the country, against enemies, domestic and foreign. We saw domestic terrorists storm the Capitol on January 6th, incited by Trump. We seemingly escaped the worst case scenario. Still, there is much work to do.

As today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, let us mark on our calendars January 6th as Insurrection Day.

Posted in crime, Justice Chronicles, Lest We Forget, Murder, Patriotism, Politics, race, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blue Lives Matter, Brownsville, and Justice Reinvestment

The throngs of Trump’s January 6th Insurrectionists attacking Capitol police plays across my mind, over and over, like it is on rewind. The self-proclaimed “President of ‘Law and Order'” unleashed domestic terrorism and lawlessness practically unseen in the annals of the “Divided States of America.” Commentators have reported that not since the War of 1812 when the British burned the Capitol has America seen anything like this. Why some Republicans are downplaying this assault on our Capitol and democracy, and the treasonous acts and actions of Trump and his sycophants and supporters, is beyond logic. I guess Blue Lives Matter only when they are shooting and killing unarmed people of color?

It has been interesting, and misleading, how some Media has portrayed how Black people see Blue Lives.

Just the other day I was walking by a bodega in Brownsville in Brooklyn. Four Black men were standing in front of the store providing commentary on the suspected “serial killer” who was arrested a couple of days ago in their neighborhood, suspected of having committed at least three homicides over the past five years.

“Now that’s who the cops supposed to shoot dead!” one of the street corner commentators opined. The three others nodded their heads in agreement.

Black people, even in neighborhoods with high crime rates, do not want to see the police “defunded.” They want them to “serve and protect” them, to not have the posture of an occupying army.

The whole “defund the police” narrative was possibly intentionally framed in this manner, maybe not for obvious reasons. But from the very beginning, it was about justice reinvestment, that is, some monies normally overspent on law enforcement would be reallocated and redirected towards crime prevention and invested in the communities that are over policed, read “million dollar blocks.”

A number of years ago it was revelaed that government(s) spent at least one million dollars per block in predominantly communities of color to police, prosecute and imprison people from seven neighborhoods. At another time I will write how this analysis was done by a group of men in prison at Green Haven in 1972, through a Think Tank, and what was born from their brainchild.

In the final analysis, when we look at the Republican response to the Capitol Insurrection, methinks that something is rotten in the District of Columbia.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hammerin’ Hank, and Me!

Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron died yesterday, January 22, 2021. As soon as I learned of his death, I was deeply saddened. He was one of my childhood heroes, and when I played Little League Baseball I wore his “lucky” number 44.

“Hammerin’ Hank” was still chasing Babe Ruth’s Major League Baseball (MLB) homerun record when I was playing Little League Baseball. I remember hitting my first homerun, to right field, how exhiliarating it was! I could not even begin to imagine how Hank Aaron was feeling as he closed in on the Babe’s record. At 13, I did not know that Hank Aaron was receiving numerous death threats as he closed in on the MLB homerun record. As someone who played a couple of sports, as someone who is a fan of sports, even today I cannot imagine why people would threaten a sports star as he closed in on an iconic record. The proper response is to root for the person, to root the person on, and to celebrate the accomplishment.

As a Black man born and bred in America, you come to understand that almost everything is colored and overshadowed by race, even, and perhaps especially, sports. Black success, even in sports, is often met by a white backlash. Thus the death threats Hank Aaron received. It might not seem obvious, but all forms of Black success threatens theories of white supremacy (read white “fragility.”)

I will keep hammering away at this point: that the January 6th Insurrection is connected to theories of white supremacy and white fragility, and that it plays out in hard ball, on the field, and in the body politic, in almost everything imaginable.

If they play baseball in Heaven, I know that Hammerin’ Hank Aaron is already on a team, not the Angels, but the Braves. What a brave soul he was. Rest in Power, Hank Aaron, rest in Power!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

“Hang Mike Pence!”

The January 6th Insurrectionists’ assault on our Capitol revealed a number of things beyond the American Divide, which is always racial, although this Insurrection was framed as political by most of the talking heads.

Of all the disturbing images and words from this Trump-inspired coup attempt, what cut to the very core of my being as a Black man born and bred in America, with roots firmly planted in American soil since 1805 — this is as far back I have been able to trace my roots, since my white ancestors, the 12 percent of “white blood” that courses through my veins, are hiding in the family tree — was the lynch mob’s chant of, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!” Despite what mostly white politicos and commentators are proclaiming, this is the America Black people know. In that moment, when the lynch mob was not too far from perhaps finding Mike Pence and his family hiding from them, possibly to hang Pence, I was in solidarity with Mike Pence and his family. There is nothing more frightening, nothing more fear-evoking to a Black person in America, than a lynch mob. Just the thought of a hanging touches and triggers something deep in the Black American soul and psyche — the horrors of lynching are part of our collective unconscious, as if we all have experienced it, and we have, on a cellular level — it is in our DNA. I just wonder if, in the moment when the mob was chanting for Mike Pence’s head, if he got a glimpse of or felt any solidarity with the more than 4,400 Black men, women, and children who were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by white mobs between 1877 and 1950, and the millions of Black people who unconsciously shiver at the sight of a tree. Don’t get me wrong, for me it is not about Mike Pence’s politics, and I have nothing against him personally, but it is about his unwavering loyalty to Donald Trump, who debased the Office of the Presidency, who cast him off when he decided to follow the Constitution instead of doing Trump’s final bidding. I have joked that if I were making a movie I would cast Pence as Lucifer, although I know that that is unfair, because Trump is as close to the antichrist as we have encountered and experienced in America. (Shame on you, white Evangelicals!)

I don’t know why this thought just popped into my head — the beheading of John the Baptist — but in the annals of history we have seen people lose their heads for far less when they fall from power and fall from grace. Mike Pence should count himself as lucky!

Finally, just think of the costumes some of the characters wore when they invaded the Capitol. Did they think they were in an episode of Game of Thrones? Well, Winter has come, and Democracy, always fragile, has held on to its head. For now.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Amazing Grace of Black People

Just the other day on social media I posted that Black people in America embody amazing grace. That thought came to the forefront of my mind when Lori Marie Key, a Black nurse, sang Amazing Grace at the national COVID remembrance. Even though a white slaver wrote Amazing Grace, no one sings it like Black people in America, no one embodies it like Black people in America.

On this Inauguration Day in America, I think of the poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” Maya Angelou composed for William Jefferson Clinton’s inauguration on January 20, 1993. The poem talked of war and divisiveness, but also of hope for a new beginning of peace. Sixteen years later, Elizabeth Alexander composed a poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration. A verse in Alexander’s poem could very well be uplifted today for Joseph R. Biden Jr’s Inauguration:

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot see.

We have seen things in the past four years that we cannot unsee. When looking back on Trump’s tumultuous four years occupying the White House, let’s think of the words of Soren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher and theologian: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

As we move forward, we know that perhaps the person leaving the White House, the Donald, is the most graceless person who has ever occupied the Oval Office. The person moving into the White House, Joe Biden, has demonstrated some amazing grace, even in choosing Kamala Harris as his running mate, who skewered him during one of the democratic debates.

If you haven’t seen the theme, note the roles played by four Black women on these three Inauguration Days mentioned above.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Brief History of How “Black History” is Seen

What is called “Black History” in the United States of America is American history.  In categorizing and cataloging “Black History” as such, and relegating it not only to one month of the year, February, but also the shortest month of the year, it in effect diminishes its importance, as if it is a sub-branch of American history.  In fact, there is no America as we know it without Black people.  Black people in the USA, that is, descendants of Africans, were in the U.S. at its very founding, and before, of course (when you hear second generation Europeans telling Black Americans to “go back to Africa,” you get a sense of white Americans’ disconnect from what American history is, and this is so because of how American history has been taught).  Black Americans fought in every major war America has waged, including the Revolutionary War.

Black History in America doesn’t begin with the Revolutionary War.  Black history begins way before that; and Black history is not simply the history of slavery, from 1619 to 1865, as some people would have it.  Black history is a history of resistance, resilience, and triumph (making a way out of no way).  It is a history that continues to force America to at least attempt to live up to her ideals.  In fact, the treatment of Black people in America should be the moral yardstick by which America is judged.  Perhaps this is why historians have narrated American history from the subjective lens of white people, for to do otherwise puts everything white Americans hold dear about American history into question.

White Americans – in fact, all Americans – should celebrate Black history, in all its glory, because it is American history, a story of America, a story of overcoming.  It is also a history of creativity and invention – inventions created by Black Americans were often trademarked by White Americans.  W.E.B. DuBois pretty much summed up Black Americans’ contributions to America, and the world.  He mentioned three broad categories of contributions, as gifts: the gift of sweat and brawn (the very foundation of America’s economic system was built on the backs of Black people); the gift of music and song (from Ragtime to Rock and Roll to Rap); and the gift of the Spirit (the moral and religious Black leaders forcing America to look at herself in the mirror, not simply as what she was, but what she could become, and looking to show America the Way).

Black people have actually shown America the Way.  Almost every immigrant has had a better experience in America because not only did Black people bear the whips and scorns of various oppressive American systems, but they also paved the way to make it easier for immigrants to believe in and pursue the American Dream.  While the American dream has often been delayed for Black people, often turning into the American Nightmare, it is still an American ideal, an ideal we export to the world.

The ideal of America exists in large part because of Black people and their spirit.

The spirit of Black people in America has been indomitable.  Through slavery and segregation and hyperincarceration, Black people have weathered various storms and not only survived, but also triumphed.

Black history has lived in the shadows of American history because – this is where American historians are not objective – it shows the other side of America, her ugliness, personified in institutional and systemic racism, and her recalcitrance in the face of the country’s current racial reckoning.  In short, American history has been narrated as a tale of white male heroes, leaving out not only the various villains, but also the other heroes, white women, and people of color.  How else can we understand the celebration of the treasonous Confederacy and Confederate iconography more than 150 years after the Civil War and the Confederacy’s defeat?

America, take a good look in the mirror, not the fun house mirror that has become the distorted lens out of which white Americans see America.  Try looking at America through the lens of the indigenous people.  Try looking at America through the lens of Black Americans.  Try looking at America through the lens of recent immigrants, especially from South of the U.S. border.  If you don’t like what you see – well, it was made in America.

Posted in Black patriotism, Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass, Education, Lest We Forget, Patriotism, race, Revolution, Slavery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chadwick Boseman: In Memoriam – Black Panther!

Two years ago, in preparing to deliver a high school graduation commencement address at the Fedcap School in Orange, New Jersey, I researched a number of commencement addresses by pop culture characters and personalities. During my research, I came across Chadwick Boseman’s 2018 Howard University Commencement Speech, at which he was awarded an honorary doctorate. His Speech was relevant on so many levels, but topically, he had just starred as the iconic Black Panther, a superhero for our times, especially in this #BlackLivesMatter Era. Additionally, Black Lightning had come on the set at the beginning of 2018, electrifying the small screen. With these two Black Superheroes in mind, I had my theme.

The story of the hero and the superhero has fascinated me since watching Superman, in black-and-white, as a kid. Superman being a white alien in the Metropolis, which could be any Big City, didn’t bother me, a born and bred Brooklynite. This racial stuff really doesn’t bother kids. There are kids of all races with Black athletes and entertainers on posters on their bedroom walls. (As a teenager, I had a poster of Bruce Lee on my bedroom wall.) It wasn’t until much later I became disturbed by the fact that all the superheroes I encountered in my youth were uber White! Later, as a poet, inspired, I wrote a series of poems on heroes, even comparing Superman and Superfly – which wasn’t a comparison at all. They both dressed outlandishly, but Superman beat Superfly by a long shot!

In my address I wanted to uplift this idea of the Black Superhero, that the graduates were living in a Wakanda of sorts, especially as it related to technology and how they are literally growing up with smart phones in their hands, and that technology advances at warp speed, making gadgets of yesterday obsolete today. I wanted the graduates to know that they were inheriting a world with endless possibilities. They were the students many had given up on. When I posed the question to the graduates, that many thought they wouldn’t make it to this graduation day, there was a resounding yes!

As I write this today, I think of Chadwick Boseman’s seemingly “brief” life. But in portraying iconic characters, from Jackie Robinson to James Brown, and of course the Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman lived many meaningful lives, using his gifts and talents to show the world “Blackness,” often emulated, in its glory. As such, he changed the world, and maybe a few minds.

The world, I told the graduating class, is waiting for them to change it. It was no coincidence that the school’s basketball team is the Panthers!

I am sad that I will not see Chadwick Boseman in another film. But I am inspired by his body of work. Despite the white superheroes I grew up on, when I started playing sports, especially baseball, I had other heroes to look up to, specifically Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. They both lived remarkable stories of overcoming, despite the white lash they faced that comes from insidious white racism.

Baseball remembers Jackie Robinson to this day, the man who broke the color barrier in “major league” baseball. Let us forever remember the Black Panther, the role that broke box offices and uplifted the narrative that #BlackSuperHeroesMatter. #WakandaForever!

EricatBlackPanther

 

Posted in being a teenager, Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass, ezwwaters, Lest We Forget, raising black boys, Urban Impact | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Final” Touches on The Black Blood of Poetry

Early this morning I put the “final” touches on my title poem, “The Black Blood of Poetry.” I wasn’t going to post it, but it is timely, and I’d rather not wait until the collection is published to put this topical piece out there today and not tomorrow, because tomorrow isn’t promised. As I stated in an earlier post, “The Black Blood of Poetry” utilizes the Pantoum. For those not familiar with this form, especially poets, it is a beautiful form for an elegy. Using 1619 as a starting point, Black blood continues to be senselessly shed in the United States of America. In writing about the “gifts” Black folk gave to America, W.E.B. DuBois writes about “the gift of sweat and brawn.” I would add “blood.” As I write in the poem below, this Racial Reckoning could be America’s Racial Awakening.

The Black Blood of Poetry


His beaten and bloated corpse for the world to see.
Look what white folk did to this little Black Boy!
“No way I could describe what was in that box!”
Mamie Till Bradley said of what had been her son.

Look what white folk did to that little Black Boy,
This “’Chicago boy,’ stirring up trouble” in Ole Miss.
Mamie Till Bradley said of what had been her son,
Beaten beyond recognition, pistol-whipped with a gun.

This “’Chicago boy,’ stirring up trouble” in Ole Miss,
White Citizens’ Council of America members declare.
Beaten beyond recognition, pistol-whipped with a gun –
Lynched as an example for which white folks do stand.

White Citizens’ Council of America members declare,
Violence as a tool to keep Black folk in their place – 
Lynching as an example for which white folks do stand.
His beaten and bloated corpse for the world to see.



In the Blood Cotton Fields of Ole Miss,
Perhaps a clue to Till’s kidnapping unearthed.
The Association’s Field Secretary, disguised as a cotton picker,
Makes his way through red soil fecund with Black blood.

A clue to Till’s kidnapping unearthed in the Blood Cotton fields of Ole Miss?
The River, his penultimate resting place, his beaten and bloated body buoyed,
Floating, not wading in the water – not found in the soil fecund with Black blood.
Look what white folk did to that little Black Boy!

The River, his penultimate resting place, his beaten and bloated body buoyed,
Revealed, a Testament of white Southern violence writ large on Black bodies.
Look what white folk did to that little Black Boy!
An Apocalyptic American Nightmare, foreshadowing the fire next time.

A Testament of white Southern violence writ large on Black Bodies –
Burn, baby, burn, white folk sing as beaten Black bodies burn on bonfires of hate,
An Apocalyptic American Nightmare, foreshadowing the fire next time,
War in the Blood Cotton fields of Ole Miss.


“All of a sudden, we heard a shot. We knew what it was.”
Sergeant Medgar Wiley Evers survived World War II,
Only to die in battle on the Blood Cotton fields of Ole Miss,
Where America’s bloody Civil War waged on.

Sergeant Medgar Wiley Evers survived World War II,
Only to return to the Old Confederacy in Ole Miss,
Where America’s bloody Civil War waged on,
Where Old Confederate soldiers never die, never die, never die.

Redeployed in the Old Confederate States of America, in Ole Miss,
Field Secretary Evers makes his way through soil fecund with Black blood,
Where Old Confederate soldiers never die, never die, never die.
Old Confederate soldiers never die – they live forever, memorialized.

Field Secretary Evers makes his way through soil fecund with Black blood.
The beaches of Normandy pale in comparison to the Blood Cotton fields of Ole Miss,
Where Old Confederate soldiers never die, never die, never die.
“All of a sudden, we heard a shot. We knew what it was.”



The shot from the Enfield 1917 rifle reverberated in the Civil Rights Universe.
“All of a sudden, we heard a shot. We knew what it was.”
From the rifle of former USMC machine gunner, Byron De La Beckwith Jr,
The bullet lodged in the back of his intended Black target.

“All of a sudden, we heard a shot. We knew what it was.”
Espousing white supremacy and wearing the white sheet of Klansmen,
Beckwith fired the shot that lodged in the back of his intended Black target,
World War II vet and NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Wiley Evers.

Espousing white supremacy and wearing the white sheet of Klansmen,
The not-so-friendly-fire from the Enfield 1917 rifle found its mark,
And lodged in the back of Sergeant Evers, who survived the Invasion of Normandy – 
Fighting against fascism in the segregated U.S. Army on the Western Front.

The not-so-friendly-fire from the Enfield 1917 rifle found its mark:
The back of a World War II vet, not in Normandy, but in the Blood Cotton fields of Ole Miss.
From fighting in the segregated U.S. Army, to fighting Jim Crow in the Southern Theater.
The battle wages on, against segregation, white supremacy, and racism.



What is the price of Black Freedom? Do Black men buy it for a song?
No, it is bought with a terrible price, which takes a terrible toll:
Chain-whipped and castrated, freedom extracted from your body and soul,
While your bullet-riddled body’s unceremoniously buried in Southern soil.

Freedom is bought with a terrible price, a terrible price that takes its toll.
A cruel Southern past-time, destroying and desecrating Black bodies;
Beaten and bullet-riddled bodies unceremoniously buried in an earthen dam.
Freedom Summer: Freedom Rides; Freedom Votes; Freedom Schools; Freedom Houses.

A cruel Southern past-time: destroying and desecrating Black bodies,
Gathering around poplar trees, watching Strange Fruit swinging in the Summer breeze.
The price of Freedom Rides; Freedom Votes; Freedom Schools; Freedom Houses.
White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan terrorizing Blacks during Black Summer Nights.

Gathering around poplar trees, watching Strange Fruit swinging in the Summer breeze,
A legacy of the Southern Lost Cause, an unwillingness to concede its defeat;
So White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan terrorize Blacks during Black Summer Nights.
What is the price of Black Freedom? It is bought with a terrible price.



Malcolm X Speaks, about white devils, blond-haired, blue-eyed devils –
Their deeds are devilish, diabolical, destroying and desecrating Black bodies.
Black Nationalism on the rise; Separation, not Segregation – no equality in that!
All of this white hate is producing Black self-love, a different Black response.

The white Man’s deeds are devilish, destroying and desecrating Black bodies.
Black nonviolence’s met with unchecked white violence – water hoses and batons.
All of this white hate is producing Black self-love, a different Black response,
To being pistol-whipped, chain-whipped, and castrated, before the lynchings.

Black nonviolence’s met with unchecked white violence – water hoses and batons,
From White Citizens’ Council of America members, and terroristic Night Riders.
Pistol-whipping, chain-whipping, and castrating Black men, before the lynchings,
To keep Black folk in their “rightful” place, subordinate to these white devils!

White Citizens’ Council of America members, and terroristic white Night Riders –
Black ballots produce bullets and batons bashing Black heads from white hatemongers,
To keep Black folk in their “rightful” place, subordinate to these white devils!
Malcolm X Speaks about white devils, blond-haired, blue-eyed devils!



“You did it! It is because of you [devils!] – the men that created this white supremacy –
That this man is dead.” “The Hate that Hate Produced,” you say. “You did it!”
He was “our shining black prince…who didn’t hesitate to die because he loved us so.”
The Bullets Over Broadway, in the Audubon Ballroom – he died “because he loved us so.”

“The Hate that Hate Produced,” you say, but it is Black bodies, destroyed and desecrated,
By your hate, that burn in your bonfires of hate, that swing from Southern poplar trees.
White hands guided those Bullets Over Broadway in the Audubon Ballroom.
Thus we reject your twisted words; we will not revile him. We will honor him.

By your hands, Black bodies burn in your bonfires of hate; Black bodies swing from poplar trees.
His bullet-riddled Black body -- 21 gunshot wounds, including ten buckshot wounds.
We will not revile him. We will honor him. “In honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves.”
“Even his sharpest critics recognized his brilliance…possessing a promise…now…unrealized.”

His bullet-riddled Black body – 21 gunshot wounds, including ten buckshot wounds.
He was “our shining black prince…who didn’t hesitate to die because he loved us so.”
“Even his sharpest critics recognized his brilliance…possessing a promise…now…unrealized.”
“It is because of you – the men that created this white supremacy – that this man is dead.”



The King is dead, his Black blood spilt on a Southern Motel Balcony!
This Black Prince of Peace, dead from white violence at thirty-nine;
His autopsy reveals a heart of 60 years, from the stress of fighting Ole Jim Crow.
“Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” for “I’ve seen the Mountaintop.”

This Black Prince of Peace, a victim of white violence at thirty-nine.
Nonviolence begat violence: Southern hate, water hoses and police batons.
“Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” for “I’ve seen the Mountaintop.”
He still dreams in Technicolor, in a deeply demarcated black-and-white world.

Nonviolence begat violence: Southern hate, water hoses and police batons.
But he still had dreams, dreams of that Oneness that’s part of Christians’ creed.
He still dreams in Technicolor, in a deeply demarcated black-and-white-world.
This Native Southern Son waged a peaceful campaign across the South.

His dreams are of that Oneness that’s part of Christians’ creed –
May his Lord safekeep his soul till the Second Coming, or the fire next time.
This Native Southern Son waged a peaceful campaign across the South,
But a misguided white brother spilt the Prince of Peace’s Black Blood on a Balcony.



The Apocalyptic American Nightmare, the fire next time, is now –
Burn, baby burn! – incendiary devices are ignited throughout the country.
Dr. King is dead! Long live Dr. King! Dr. King is dead!
King’s words of nonviolence are dead, too, killed by white folks.

Burn, baby, burn – incendiary devices are ignited throughout the country.
This is what happens to the American Dream Deferred!
King’s words of nonviolence are dead, too, killed by white folks.
Ungawa! Black Power! Destroy, white folks! – the Revolution is being televised!

This is what happens to the American Dream Deferred!
From those Black Summers to the Destruction of the Black Wall Street.
Ungawa! Black Power! Destroy, white folks! – the Revolution is being televised!
“If we must die, O let us nobly die, so that our precious blood’s not shed in vain.”

From those Black Summers to the Destruction of the Black Wall Street,
America’s Racial Reckoning, the violence comes home to roost.
“If we must die, O let us nobly die, so that our precious blood’s not shed in vain.”
The Apocalyptic American Nightmare, the fire next time, is now!



White Officer Number One: “Is he still alive?”
White Officer Number Two: “He’s good and dead now.”
Black Panther, Chairman Frederick Allen Hampton, shot dead,
Dragged to the doorway, left in a pool of his own Black blood.

“He’s good and dead now,” in this law enforcement no-knock pre-dawn raid.
Two shots to the head! – “No Quarter for Wild Beasts,” the Chicago Tribune opined.
Dragged to the doorway, left in a pool of his own Black blood.
The “war on gangs,” really a “war on Black youth.”

Two shots to the head! – “No Quarter for Wild Beasts,” the Chicago Tribune opined,
Obviously referring to Big Bad Black Panthers in the urban jungle.
The “war on gangs,” really, a “war on Black youth.”
A Counter Intelligence Program to counter that Truth.

Black Panthers on the streets, a Black Revolutionary Guard;
Political education, showing up at the Polls, and free lunch for the People!
A Counter Intelligence Program to counter this Platform.
Power to the People! Black Panther, Chairman Fred Hampton.



Soledad Brother, with Blood in His Eyes, a Black Coming of Age Story, in Prison.
Racism deconstructed from behind prison walls, crucibles of social control,
The Legacy of the peculiar institution, of Slave Codes, Black Codes, and The New Jim Crow.
Hyperincarceration of Black youth, of the Black Guerrilla Family.

Racism deconstructed from behind prison walls, crucibles of social control.
The War on Crime, a War on Black Youth – greater than 1 in 4 chance going to prison.
Hyperincarceration of Black youth, of the Black Guerrilla Family.
Black bodies confined, constricted, restricted; Black bodies destroyed and desecrated.

The War on Crime, a War on Black Youth – greater than 1 in 4 chance going to prison.
In small prison cells reminiscent of the holds of slave ships,
Black bodies confined, constricted, restricted; Black bodies destroyed and desecrated.
The fight to not be counted among the countless broken Black bodies.

In small prison cells reminiscent of the holds of slave ships,
Political education politicizes common criminals to resist The New Jim Crow,
And fight to not be counted among the countless broken Black bodies.
A Black Coming of Age Story, of Solidarity and Resistance.



The first thing we do, is kill all the Black Resisters!
Comrade George is targeted. He’s part of a long line of Resisters.
He refuses to be counted among the broken men, so he resists.
He resists in the same manner of all the freedom fighters of yore.

Comrade George is targeted, because he’s part of a long line of Resisters.
He fights the Powers that be, because they can only Be if he doesn’t.
He resists in the same manner of all the freedom fighters of yore.
There’s his Manifesto, and developing the Marxist-Leninist Black Guerrilla Family.

He fights the Powers that be, because they can only Be if he doesn’t.
History manifests the white man’s machinations, the long line of Black deaths.
Thus his Manifesto, and developing the Marxist-Leninist Black Guerrilla Family.
Comrade George, shot dead in an attempted escape, one of The Martyrs paid tribute.

History manifests the white man’s machinations, the long line of Black deaths.
The first thing we do, is kill all the Black Resisters!
Comrade George, shot dead in an attempted escape, one of The Martyrs paid tribute.
The first thing we do, is kill all the Black Resisters.



Resisting arrest, a superfluous charge with almost every crime,
Is how the scales of Justice are tilted against Blacks, every time.
In inner cities, blue knights arrive on the scene armed to the teeth,
An occupying force; so much for “to serve and protect: -- no friendly cop on the beat.

The scales of Justice are tilted against Blacks, every time,
Especially in police-involved killings, rarely deemed a crime.
Blue knights are an occupying army in the ‘hoods they should serve.
Little wonder there’s excessive force, they have a license to kill.

Police-involved killings are rarely deemed a crime.
There’s a long list of “Stolen Lives,” yet it happens again, time after time.
Excessive force, a manifestation of this license to kill.
Imagine that list of Stolen lives, their names etched on a monument wall.

There’s a long list of Stolen Lives, yet it happens again, time after time.
“We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteous like a mighty stream.”
Imagine that list of Stolen Lives, their names etched on a monument wall.
The Apocalyptic writing’s on the wall, the fire next time, the next time a Black man falls.



He is silenced, by death, but his voice, his dying words –
“I can’t breathe” – take on life, and reverberate across the globe.
Eight minutes and 15 seconds of televised indifference to a Black life,
Casually but cruelly snuffed out by a blue knight.

“I can’t breathe!” – his dying words – echo across the globe.
Yet some say that All Lives Matter, but not his Black life?
His casually but cruelly snuffed out by a blue knight.
And so, the fire next time, this Racial Reckoning.

Some say that All Lives Matter, but not his Black life.
His Black life really didn’t matter, not by a long shot.
And so, the fire next time, is upon us, this Racial Reckoning.
Thus old Confederate soldiers must die, their statues laid to rest.

George Floyd’s life must matter, and not have been taken in vain.
The one hundred and fifty-nine-year Civil War must end,
And old Confederate soldiers must die, their statues laid to rest.
This is America’s test, if this Racial Reckoning will be an Awakening.



In Memoriam

Emmett Louis Till
(07/25//1941 – 08/28/1955 – 14 years of age)

Medgar Evers
(07/02/1925 – 06/12/1963 – 37 of age)

James Earl Chaney
(05/30/1943 – 06/21/1964 – 21 years of age)

Malcolm X aka el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz
(05/19/1925 – 02/21/1965 – 39 years of age)

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
(01/15/1929 – 04/04/1968 – 39 years of age)

Fredrick Allen Hampton
(08/30/1948 – 12/04/1969 – 20 years of age)

George Lester Jackson
(09/23/1941 – 08/21/1971 – 29 years of age)

George Floyd
(10/14/1973 – 05/25/2020 – 46 years of age)

 

Posted in Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass, crime, James Baldwin, Lest We Forget, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Murder, Nation of Islam, Poetry, Politics, race, raising black boys, Revolution, Sometimes Blue Knights Wear Black Hats, Sonny's Blues, Streets of Rage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Black Blood of Poetry

Over the weekend I got some good work done on my title poem, “The Black Blood of Poetry.”

A little more than twenty years ago, a poet-friend, Rachel Wetzsteon, who committed suicide in December 2009, perhaps because she felt too much and too deeply, as poets are wont – they are also incurable Romantics – told me that I should flirt with various poetic forms. With her advice in hand, I flirted with Ms. Sonnet – and my absolutely most favorite sonnet is, “If We Must Die,” by Claude McKay, about the Black Summer of 1919 – and Monsieur Villanelle, and various other forms. In playing the poetic field, I fell in love with the Pantoum, a Malay verse form. The Pantoum lends itself very well to elegies. Thus I thought it would be the most appropriate form for the title poem of “The Black Blood of Poetry,” which begins with a stanza on Emmett Till, followed by stanzas on Medgar Evers, one of which I decided to include here, and ends with a stanza on George Floyd. In between these bookends, there is so much Black death, mostly at the hands of white folk. In this poem I focused on Black men. In my third collection of poetry, The Black Feminine Mystique, which is dedicated to my four sisters, I pay tribute to women of color across the ages. So cut me some slack here!

The Black Feminine Mystique

The Black Blood of Poetry
His beaten and bloated corpse for the world to see.
Look what white folk did to this little Black Boy!
“No way I could describe what was in that box!”
Mamie Till Bradley said of what had been her son.

Look what white folk did to that little Black Boy,
This “’Chicago boy,’ stirring up trouble” in Ole Miss.
Mamie Till Bradley said of what had been her son,
Beaten beyond recognition, pistol-whipped with a gun.

This “’Chicago boy,’ stirring up trouble” in Ole Miss,
White Citizens’ Council of America members declare.
Beaten beyond recognition, pistol-whipped with a gun –
Lynched as an example for which white folks do stand.

White Citizens’ Council of America members declare,
Violence as a tool to keep Black folk in their place – 
Lynching as an example for which white folks do stand.
His beaten and bloated corpse for the world to see.



In the Blood Cotton Fields of Ole Miss,
Perhaps a clue to Till’s kidnapping unearthed.
The Association’s Field Secretary, disguised as a cotton picker,
Makes his way through red soil fecund with Black blood.

A clue to Till’s kidnapping unearthed in the Blood Cotton fields of Ole Miss?
The River, his penultimate resting place, his beaten and bloated body buoyed,
Floating, not wading in the water – not found in the soil fecund with Black blood.
Look what white folk did to that little Black Boy!

The River, his penultimate resting place, his beaten and bloated body buoyed,
Revealed, a Testament of white Southern violence writ large on Black bodies.
Look what they did to that little Black Boy!
An Apocalyptic American Nightmare, foreshadowing the fire next time.

A Testament of white Southern violence writ large on Black Bodies –
Burn, baby, burn, white folk sing as beaten Black bodies burn on bonfires of hate,
An Apocalyptic American Nightmare, foreshadowing the fire next time,
War in the Blood Cotton fields of Ole Miss.
Posted in being a teenager, Black Shadows and Through the White Looking Glass, crime, ezwwaters, Lest We Forget, Poetry, race, raising black boys, Relationships, Streets of Rage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment