Strange Fruit

http://artandsocialissues.cmaohio.org/web-content/pages/race_gorelick.html
Boris Gorelick, Strange Fruit, 1939. Lithograph, 10 ⅜ x 13 ⅞ in.

 

When I get up in the morning and see the news. When I get up in the morning and see the same not-new news. The same horror. Again. Again. Again. Again. Again. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say. I weep. I cry out to God. WHERE IS JUSTICE? WHERE IS PEACE? I don’t know how to continue running this website that’s supposed to help. Make sense of the world. Speak light into darkness.

When there are no words or strength left for already-been-said, tired-of-being-on-repeat disquisition… 

Thank God. The gift of poetry and song.

My heart finds courage in people like Pamela Bailey. Pamela is a bridge builder. That’s what (good) artists do. Build bridges over gaps. Bridges to what ought to be. And they make mirrors. Help us see ourselves more clearly. Force us to look closely at reality we’d rather romanticize or rationalize, hide with makeup. Whitewash or blackface.

We — whites in America — have to learn our own history. We don’t know our own history. We don’t know. We weren’t taught: we don’t know we don’t know.

Why are they still singing that same old song — Billie, Nina, Pamela? Can we learn to listen? 

I hope. I hope.

I hope so.

 

Still Strange Fruit
by Pamela Bailey

Strange fruit, no longer hanging from the poplar trees
Instead it lies lifeless on cracked, tar-covered streets
Life taken with such ease…
No fear of retribution, no outrage in the land
For the bullet-riddled body is just that of a black man’s
Take her down, take him out, they’ve got something in their hands!
A book, a bag of candy, a menthol cigarette – Keith Lamont Scott, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland
Strange fruit, vilified
They must have done something wrong
Four hundred years of persecution, today – death threats for kneeling during a song
The lies have changed, but the sentiment remains…then
“We treated our slaves with such great care”… now
“I felt threatened”, although he had no weapon, with his hands raised high in the air
Strange fruit, blood staining streets like the juice of berries ripened by the sun
Still Mother America offers no refuge to her darker children, justice is still undone

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