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Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Album: Say You're Sorry

So I have been going into the recording studio of late to work on my next poetry album, which I have affectionately dubbed my "angry album." I am collaborating on this album with a talented musician by the name of Nik Ritchie. He is also recording the album.

The centerpiece of the album is a poem I have been working on for some time called "Say You're Sorry: A Rant About Slavery" I decided quite a while ago that as a country we were never going to become anti-racist until we dealt with our shameful history. American racism was born out of our horrific history of slavery and genocide. The land was stolen from the Indigenous people, many of whom were slaughtered, and then Africans were stolen from their homelands and brought in chains to experience hundreds of years of what can only be described as one of the greatest acts of inhumanity in the history of the human being.

But we don't talk about this. The history books I grew up reading made light of slavery. The history books still in circulation when I became a teacher still failed to engage the history of slavery in any sustained way. Current discussions of racism or race relations continue to fail to engage this important issue.

So I am writing this poem and making this album and hoping to start a conversation on slavery and its aftermath. The final poem will be epic in length. Here is an excerpt from one chapter on lynching:

Say you're sorry that the lynching of blacks
Was a form a of recreation
A national pastime in our country
An outing for the whole family
Complete with food and drinks
Say you're sorry the thousands of Black people
Hung up, burned alive
Tortured castrated
Was entertainment for whites

Say you’re sorry it wasn’t
Just an abberant minority of white men
Wasn’t just the White Knights of  Columbus
Or the Klux Klux Clan
Operating under the cover of darkness
Say you're sorry it was whole communities
Law enforcement city mayors
Jailers and judges, legislators,
Upstanding white men

Say you’re sorry antil-ynching legislation
Was defeated in the US Senate
Again and again
In 1922 1937 and 1940
While black bodies hung
While Black bodies burned
Say you're sorry mutilated black bodies
Were hung from flagpoles and rooftops
White racism’s  “old glory”
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