Tag Archives: racism

I Name the Crises

by Thomas Davis

The virus raging as so many elders die
and young people party, drinking into laugher,
risking brains that swell with fevers,
mini-strokes, hallucinations that skew apart their world;
 
The economy collapsing into unemployment
as bread lines form like they did in the Great Depression,
hollow eyes looking at the world with despair
even as social distancing, safety
is an impossibility as you stand in line, hungry and afraid;
 
The video of a black man saying, “I can’t breathe” twenty times
as a white policeman kneels on his neck,
hearing him calling for his mother out of his terror,
exploding into a nation’s consciousness the history
of white robes and hoods, the spasm of confederate statues
trying desperately to rewrite the history of military and social loss,
the Trail of Tears, a President throwing paper towels
as Puerto Rico mourns destroyed homes, flooded lives,
spirits concentrated by a hurricane to rows of graves;
 
The teetering of democracy as black, brown, Asian, Native people
stand in lines for hours to vote in rain storms, intense heat, cold
as sanctimonious voices praise the Lord and American exceptionalism
and celebrate cages on the border
where children, separated forcibly from their parents, cry,
and a flush-faced leader claims he is the One, the only one
who can solve the problems he has helped intensify;
 
Then the ecosystems’ warnings
as Antarctica glaciers melt, song birds cease to sing,
the Amazon Forest burns and shrinks from year to year,
migrations from wars, starvation, ethnic rage, dictatorial triumph
put words in politician’s mouths that celebrate
how great their country, party is;
 
and then the greed that celebrates the rich selling snake oil:
            Come, give us tax breaks, roads, communication networks,
robots that feed our wealth-making machines —
            rescue us when our venality threatens our prosperity
            as the virus rages, the middle class collapses, small business people fail,
            poor families lose their homes, the homeless starve,
            mental health deteriorates, people march for justice,
the great extinctions
            of insects, plants, fish, all living things grows ever more deadly
            to the long-term health of the world and humankind,
            and greed demands the glorification of greed
as the solution to the problems greed creates.
 
I name the crises.
The question is, what do we, as human beings, do now?

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Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis

John Hope Franklin

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

John Hope Franklin
remembers
he and his mother
boarding a train
and getting on a white coach
by accident.

“They stopped the train
and threw us off.”

He was six years old,
crying and afraid,
but his mother told him
that he was as good
as anyone else
in the whole world,
and that he shouldn’t
waste his energy crying,
but instead use it
to prove his worth.

John Hope went on
to get a PhD from Harvard,
rewriting American-African history.

In 1934 he handed
Franklin Roosevelt a petition
against the Cordie Cheek lynching,
marched for civil rights
in Montgomery Alabama in 1965,
testified against Robert Bork’s
nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987,
and won the Medal of Freedom in 1995.

He recently said,
“when I reached 80 years old
I thought it would change,
but instead I’m insulted every day
of my life.”

Copyright © 2010, I Sleep Between the Moons of New Mexico

Notes: A “quiet lynching” is how Sheriff Claude Godwin described the hanging of Cord Cheek, a twenty-year-old African American. Cheek was accused of, but never indicted for, attacking an eleven-year-old white girl. When the Maury County,Tennessee grand jury refused to indict Cheek for the alleged attack, residents took matters in their own hands in 1933. Franklin’s testimony during the confirmation of conservative Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987 helped lead to Bork’s failure to gain confirmation by the United States Senate.

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Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry