Poetics and Poetry Discussion
(3/17/2014 8:42:00 AM)
Ploughman, A Poem for Scotland
by Scott Martin
The year was 1941, my father told me,
And by moonlight, as he ploughed the field,
Plough and harness a dull grey silver
The dark clouds parted, and revealed
Nazi bombers, bound for Clydebank,
High above over Abernyte,
The boy below, frozen in furrow
Reins in hand, awed by the sight.
I never thought he was the weaker,
In the face of brutality he never bowed down
And the boy, with the horse and the plough, entrusted,
Ploughed his seed into the ground.
I saw a man, just like my father,
In a field planting rice, in Vietnam.
So small he looked, against the bombers,
In the face of vain strength, a resolute man,
A ploughman, like my father
And a man of the land,
Although cultures divide them,
Together they stand.
In Bosnia, I saw the children who fled,
Their homes destroyed, their parents dead.
Their fields unploughed and the seeds unsown,
Their graves unmarked and their names unknown.
They spoke to me of the moonlight man,
Standing alone, with horse and plough,
More than speeches or politicians,
He led the way, he showed me how,
That to stand alone is no great shame
If something is taken in another’s name.
And remember, always, that you are a man
And the reins are held in your own hand
And that children are seeds as yet unsown,
Who may, come the harvest, be your own.
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:18:00 AM)
I'm sorry - but every person who lingers on this forum should be telling this ridiculous racist personal to STFU. Petty arguments are one thing, revenge is another - but racist rants are something that everyone should put a stop to.
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:16:00 AM)
A poet from my hometown, a well-known Sundown Town. I remember the Klan marching in the July 4,1776 parade. Every man in my family turned their backs, and turned us children, too. What's happening on this forum right now is sickening. Whoever you are - whatever you are - you are the lowest of low. If the only way you can " get even" with someone is by being a racist pig bigot, then you are not only low, you are ignorant. You're making a fool out of yourself.
by Jared Carter
I cannot give you the squeak
of the blue chalk on the cue tip,
the sound of the break, or the movement
about the table, like a ritual of wine;
then I was not born. My father,
who saw it, was still in high school;
and there are others who remember
the poolroom on the avenue.
Here lounged the former heroes
of the high-school team, who took
the Tri-State Crown in '24, and tied
with Massillon in '25. Catholics all,
a backfield composed of Swede
Svendson at fullback, the Baxter brothers
at either half, and handsome Richard
O'Reilly at the quarter.
They had no peers, then or now.
On Saturdays regularly they stood,
hats firmly on their heads, watching
the procession of hooded Klansmen
coming up Anderson Street, heading
toward the Main intersection. Always
the Klan demanded hats removed
before the flag they carried,
always the boys at the Madhouse refused,
and began unscrewing the weighted ends
of their pool cues. People came to watch;
The police stood apart; the Klan
never got past the Madhouse. That
was years ago. They're all dead now,
Swede and the Baxter boys, and
Handsome Richard O'Reilly,
who married the banker's daughter;
and the Klansmen too. Only the men
who were boys then can still remember.
They talk about it, even now,
sitting in Joe's barbershop
watching cars go by, or sipping a beer
in Condon's tavern. It is a story
I heard when I was a boy. Lately
there's been a doughnut shop
where the Madhouse used to stand.
Mornings when I stop for coffee
I can almost hear it: the nine ball
dropping in the corner pocket,
the twelve rolling to within an inch
of the side; voices in the street
echoing along the store fronts.
from Work, for the Night Is Coming
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:09:00 AM)
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the " unalienable Rights" of " Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked " insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, " When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: " For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until " justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." ¹
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest - quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of " interposition" and " nullification" - one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; " and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together." 2
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day - this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:07:00 AM)
“...racist thought and action says far more about the person they come from than the person they are directed at.”
Chris Crutcher, Whale Talk
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:06:00 AM)
“Achievement has no color”
? Abraham Lincoln
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:05:00 AM)
“Our true nationality is mankind.”
? H.G. Wells
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:03:00 AM)
Language of Closet Racism:
by Paul Gorski
Any person who has grown up in the American public school system has been educated to hold racial prejudices. To illustrate this point, ask any child to tell you about the first date in history he or she remembers learning: " In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." What happened in 1492?" Christopher Columbus discovered America." Did he?The history books I prefer to read have informed me that people were actually already here. Remember, the people who would eventually be driven from their sacred lands, forced to surrender their native tongue and customs, and " American-ize" ?The result of children learning such " facts" is a depreciation of an entire people- in this case, Native Americans.
So the American education system (with strong reinforcement from the media) has bred a nation of what I will call " closet racists." Closet racists are unaware of their prejudices. They have learned from text books presented to them by people who are supposedly knowledgeable enough to choose the best possible materials. They are trained, or more precisely, coerced into believing in " the system." If a child were to question a teacher's assertion that " Columbus discovered America, " it is more likely that the child would be chastised for showing disrespect than the possibility of the teacher initiating a discussion on the discrepancy. A closet racist is defined, then, as simply a person with racial prejudices who is unaware of those prejudices as such, usually because he or she has never been afforded the opportunity to discuss racial prejudices as such.
The question arising from this assertion is clear: Where is the evidence of this nation of so-called " closet racists?" What links them?What are their characteristics?
The answer, emerging from years of experience facilitating conversations on race issues, interviewing specific cases, and participating in a variety of cultural diversity workshops, is equally clear: language. Closet racists share a distinct and surprisingly easily detectable language when observed in a discussion about race or racism. The intention of this paper is to explore this language through the case study of Jen, a third year college student who participated in Multicultural Education, a class designed to help students find, face, and battle their own prejudices. In order to analyze Jen's closet racist language, interviews were conducted and reaction papers written at the end of each class were collected and analyzed.
Based loosely on research conducted for a Master's Thesis completed four months ago, though more focused, this paper will refer to data, analysis, and conclusions from that thesis. The lack of citations from other scholarly sources reflects the lack of material available concerning the language of race issues and unaware racists.
Who Are Closet Racists?
Though everyone who has experienced the American education system is in some degree a closet racist, certain people, and indeed, certain groups, tend to portray the characteristics more than others. At the most basic level, people who have experienced consistent racial discrimination tend to be less assignable the label of closet racist. Such people have, through their personal experiences with discrimination, been afforded opportunities to discuss race issues. As Kim, an African-American student in a Multicultural Education class during Spring semester,1995 explained,
I live these issues every day. I can't escape them anywhere: stores, classes, the gym. Three, four, five things happen everyday to remind me that, no matter what white people believe, there is still a ton of prejudice out there. It reminds me to think about the things I do and say, and the prejudices I have.
In short, closet racism is a continuum. Those with the least exposure to racial issues fall toward the high end. Experience suggests that those falling on this end are usually " white, " or " European-Americans, " while " African-Americans" fall toward the low end. So-called " middle-man minorities" tend to be spread between the extremes.
Jen, a white woman, was chosen for the case study because her sheltered home-life and general unaware-ness of race issues have served as catalysts in her formation as a high-end closet racist. An admittedly extreme case, and for that reason purposively chosen, Jen illustrates clearly the language patterns of a closet racist.
The Three Strands of the Language of Closet Racism
Three language indicators of closet racism are evident across the continuum. These are what I refer to as " strands" because, when woven together, they form the language web of closet racists. Again, strength of language and degree of racist attitudes change dramatically across the continuum, and as a result, these strands, or indicators are more readily observable in certain individuals and groups than in others. They include fear, unaware-ness, and dis-ownership.
Consider the following excerpt taken from Jen's reaction paper from the first class meeting of Multicultural Education:
The idea of political correctness with the black race astounds me. I found it extremely interesting that some blacks in our class prefer to be called African American. In all of my classes...I have felt like I was stepping on egg shells as to not offend the blacks in my class. I am honestly glad it is not that big of an issue to my fellow classmates- it promotes a more comfortable, genuine environment for me to be totally honest and carefree.
Jen reflected each strand of the language of closet racism within this short passage. These strands can be un-woven as follows:
1. fear: " I have felt like I was stepping on egg shells as to not offend blacks in my classes..."
2. unaware-ness: " I found it extremely interesting that some blacks in our class prefer to be called African American."
3. dis-ownership: " I am honestly glad it is not that big of an issue to my fellow classmates."
Some would argue that Jen's statements as pulled apart above are arbitrary, or taken out of context. But as we consider a year's worth of interviews and written reactions, and as we discuss each strand separately, a language pattern- the language of a closet racist- undeniably emerges.
We consider fear first, because it is, on the surface, the most surprising strand to find in the language. If closet racists do not consider themselves racists, then why would they show fear in discussing race issues?In the most simple terms, closet racists do not want other people to consider them racist, either. This is why white people developed " political correctness." The idea was to develop a system in which everyone knew what to say in order to allow everyone to avoid, as Jen mentioned, " walking on egg shells."
Fear also becomes the catalyst for many closet racists' decisions on what information to offer (and likewise, what not to offer) during a discussion of race issues. As Jen explained in her second reaction paper:
I was apprehensive to tell my group that my prejudice experience was within my family. I thought they would think that because my grandfather and father were racist, that I am as well- I thought they would dislike me.
She tended to elevate this apprehensive-ness during interviews, sometimes to the point of censoring herself. In one particular case, as she discussed the racial make-up of her hometown, her fear emerged quite blatantly:
...and where I'm from there were two different types of black...there were...I don't want to say this. Is it all right if I say this?...
Her fear was clear, especially as she continued, deciding, in fact, to " say this" :
Blacks and niggers, that's how it was defined where I'm from. There were no niggers at my school, they were all black, no niggers. The niggers were at [James Monroe], and that's just how it was, and we knew that.
Jen feared being labeled a racist. Again, it is important to note that she did not consider herself a racist, which leads us to the second strand or indicator: unaware-ness.
Closet racists are unaware on several levels, illustrations for which can be found in language patterns. On the first level, as emphasized above, they are unaware of racial issues as racial issues. (How many white people insisted that race was never an " issue" in the O.J. Simpson trial?) Illustrating this point, Jen, in her first interview suggested that at her high school, " there was not any sort of black/white issues or anything like that." She made this statement minutes before offering her story about the " two different types of black." In between the two statements she related stories of " some Ku Klux Klan there, " " crosses burning, and stuff like that." But nonetheless, just as she did not label herself as a racist, she was unaware that the very issues she discussed were very racial in nature, and as such she did not label those issues in terms of race, either.
On another level, Jen failed to see the racial prejudice as such in the language of others. For example, she defended her grandmother: " ...my grandmother on my Mom's side is not prejudice..." But as she continued, Jen, in her unawareness, all but labeled her grandmother a racist:
...but she refers to black people as 'colored.' Like when we have a Christmas party every year and Mark, a guy who lives around the corner from me, came to the party...and was the only black person there and she was like...'Who was that colored boy there?' She doesn't refer to him as 'Mark, ' always 'that colored boy.'
On a third level, while Jen could sometimes point out racial prejudice in other places, she was quick to distance herself from that prejudice, as if she was somehow shielded from its permeation. In this sense, Jen was unaware of racism as it exists at the institutional level. Like many closet racists, Jen believed that racism could be found " here, there, and there, " but that, in the correct circumstances, racism could be completely avoided. Again, this naivete could be recognized in her language, as in the following passage in which she compared her high school to the " other public high school" in her hometown:
James Monroe was a predominantly black school, and the only white people that did go to school there were wealthy, and so there was like the wealthy and then there was African- Americans. There was a huge line between them, but there wasn't anything like that where I was.
This passage leads directly into the third strand of the language of closet racism.
Closet racists tend to avoid owning their views on race. They often point to other groups, using terms such as " they, " or " those people, " instead of refering to themselves. In the previous passage, Jen clearly utilized the language of dis-ownership, thus assessing blame to others. " There was a huge line between them.." " I thought they would dislike me."
Closet racists, in avoiding using " I" and " me" statements in discussions of race issues avoid accepting the responsibility for their perspectives, and in many cases, prejudices. Recent articles in the Cavalier Daily about so-called self-segragation at the University of Virginia have been drowned in this language. White columnists posed questions such as " Why do the African-American students sit together at lunch, congregate at the 'black bus stop, '" etc?" Why do they have organizations like the Black Student Alliance?" In shifting the responsibility to " the African-American students, " the columnists dodged the intimidating possibility of accepting equal responsibility for the separation.
The Result of Closet Racism
As is most clearly illustrated by the dis-ownership strand of the language of closet racism, closet racists will observe other groups segragating themselves, and suddenly race becomes an issue. But, for example, white students fail to notice that white students do not approach tables filled with African-American students during lunch. And white students clearly have congregation spots (i.e. Rugby Road) .
The attractiveness- even if it exists at a subconscious level- of closet racism to those who retain it is that if one never labels himself or herself a racist, then (s) he is free from the obligation of doing something about it. For Jen and many others, closet racism becomes routine, easy, and comfortable. With blinders on their eyes, and the shield of manipulated language in their repertoire, closet racists can live a full life never confronting their own prejudices.
In fact, if the assertion holds up that white people tend to be toward the high end of the closet racist continuum, then the result of closet racism is clear. The phenomenon of closet racism is yet another catalyst in the cycle of discrimination experienced by racial minorities in America since the conception of this nation. Only individuals have the power to change themselves. In the socio-political structure in this country, it stands to reason that those in power will at all costs attempt to retain that power. In " coming out of the closet, " labeling their prejudices as such, owning those prejudices, thus placing on their shoulders the responsibility to address those prejudices, those in power fear the loss of their comfortable seat atop the nations's socio-political hierarchy. The status quo is maintained.
So how, then, is the study of the language of closet racism useful?Sometimes people I've labeled as closet racists want to change themselves. Jen was one such person. The study of the language she used when discussing race (and other multicultural) issues, and how this language changed, helped me understand the stages she experienced on her trek toward race awareness and appreciation.
Valuable further study concerning the language of closet racism would include the metamorphosis of the language as an individual becomes more aware, thus working toward the lower end of the closet racism continuum. Also, further study is necessary in addressing the meshing of the strands, and the meanings that derive from such meshing.
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:01:00 AM)
Racist America: Roots, Current Realities and Future Reparations [Paperback]
Joe R. Feagin
Sky Blue Bird
(3/17/2014 8:00:00 AM)
Sundown Towns A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (Paperback)
Author: James W. Loewen