Afroticity

hoodie-tmartin“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” Wiiliam Wilberforce

roland hayes

Roland Hayes, the brilliant tenor became the first African-American man to earn international fame as a concert vocalist. In 1942, Mr. Hayes’s wife, Helen and daughter, Afrika, sat in a whites-only area of a shoe store and were thrown out. When Mr. Hayes defended his family, he was beaten and he and his wife were arrested. The incident inspired Langston Hughes to compose the poem, Roland Hayes Beaten.

ethel waters 3

The Beulah Show, the first sitcom to star an African American actress, moved from radio to ABC TV on October 3, 1950, starring Ethel Waters for the first season. Hattie McDaniel, star of radio’s Beulah, joined the cast around September of 1951 but only filmed six episodes of the second season before falling ill. She was quickly replaced by Louise Beavers who stayed with the show until its cancellation in 1952.

heisman trophy 600“I’m not black, I’m O.J.,” a reference to an alleged quote from O.J. Simpson’s murder trial. Simpson was saying, as the story goes, that through fame and fortune he had managed to distance himself from the issues plaguing black men in America: poverty, police brutality, incarceration. I guess he was wrong. Continue reading “Afroticity”

Tuskegee Revisited

A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the most widely known spokesperson for black working-class interests in the United States, met with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration to demand he sign an executive order banning discrimination against black workers in the defense industry. Randolph threatened to bring tens of thousands of marchers to Washington, D.C. On June 25, 1941, days before the march was to occur, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which barred government agencies and federal contractors from refusing employment in industries engaged in defense production on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. It was the first Presidential decree issued on race since Reconstruction. The order required the armed services, including the Marine Corps, to recruit and enlist African Americans.

List Of Eyes

I thought it was the rain
running down my cheek
I thought it was the flood
wetting my socks
I thought it was the ashes
of burnt promises
pressed upon my head
I thought my breath
would last until
I reached the surface
I cried until the roses bloomed
I held a hand too long
I have a list of eyes
I have looked into
none of them the orb
I thought you would be.

Now That The Lights Are Out

Now that the lights are out
warm and dark
the kids long gone
so is she
I’d rather sleep in the middle
between fetal
and spread eagle
not on my side
a back would be turned
there’s been enough of that.

Covered cold shoulders
pretended to be asleep
needed to work late
microwaved affection
pretended dinner.

Now that it’s all gone
I can hold closed eyes
hollar like church singing
find peace in what’s left.

I promise not to cut my feet.