Emmett Till Revisited in Art

There is a lot of controversy about a white woman’s painting of Emmett Till now on display at the Whitney. MY NICKEL IN THAT QUARTER: The cruel, brutal, torture and lynching of a young black boy because of lies and racism in America needs to be told as often and as loudly as possible so it won’t happen again. You know the expression, “Never Again”. When is the Black community going to embrace that slogan. We need to stop marginalizing ourselves by saying only we can feel the pain and then thinking the inflictors will apologize. They need to understand pain. They need to show us they do. I get the arguments about privilege and access but someone needs to tell the story. We need to make sure everyone gets it right.

Emmitt Till Video

Old Joe

 

(in whispers)

Even Jesus give Old Joe a pass to the Pearlie Gates

Den, why dey string him up?

Dey needed a n***** satisfy somebody

But Old Joe?

He a n***** aint he?

Why somebody need to be satisfy?

Hear Boss wanted some buck breakin
Mistake an broke dat boy neck

Hear Missus got wind

She like dat boy for herself

I’d seen dat, Sho nuff

She neva like da way Old Joe smooth things

She say, “N***** Please” when he start up

Boss took to satisfy hisself and Missus by hangin’ Old Joe

Jesus, lawd of mercy

BACK TO WORK N*****

Remembering

“Lynching is an extrajudicial punishment by an informal group.”
No, lynching is a crime against humanity.


The grand wizard
buys the boys a beer
and they laugh
over the poor polaroid
covered with blood and crime

There is no final resting place
FRP frp frp frp frp frp
He must walk the earth
rattling fetters in the
symphony of slaves
in which so many play

They never found the car
the one he washed and loved
I had a water pump and friend
in that gone baby gone

Did he say see you soon
before he strode into castration
or did salvation come lynch like

God and the good ole boys
keep the secret while secretly
mom and dad die

After three days
did he roll away the rock
and rise while she watched
are the bones still broken
in some unholy hole
did night things rip and scatter
what poor man was left

There is no day or place
remembering
I do.