Saturday, October 22, 2005

JIM CROW: The Sequel by June Jordan

An angry Black woman on the subject of the angry White man: We didn't always need affirmative action When we broke this crazy land into farms when we planted and harvested the crops when we dug into the earth for water when we carried that water into the big house kitchens and bedrooms when we built that big house when we fed and clothed other people's children with food we cooked and served to other people's children, wearing the garments that we fitted and we sewed together, when we hacked and hauled huge trees for lumber and fuel, when we washed and polished the chandeliers, when we bleached and pressed the linens purchased by blood profits from our daily forced laborings, when we lived under the whip and in between the coffle and chains, when we watched our babies sold away from us, when we lost our men to anybody's highest bidder, when slavery defined our days and our prayers and our nighttimes of no rest--then we did not need affirmative action. Like two-legged livestock we cost the bossman three hundred and fifteen dollars or six hundred and seventy-five dollars so he provided for our keep like two-legged livestock penned into the parched periphery of very grand plantation life. We did not need affirmative action. NO! We needed freedom: We needed overthrow, revolution and a holy fire to purify the air. But for two hundred years this crazy land the law and the bullets behind the law continued to affirm the gospel of God-given White supremacy. For two hundred years the law and the bullets behind the law, and the money and the politics behind the bullets behind the law affirmed the gospel of God-given White supremacy/ God-given male-White supremacy. And neither the Emancipation Proclamation nor the Civil War nor one constitutional amendment after another nor one Civil Rights legislation after another could bring about a yielding of the followers of that gospel to the beauty of our human face. Justice don't mean nothin' to a hateful heart! And so we needed affirmative action. We needed a way into the big house besides the back door. We needed a chance at the classroom and jobs and open housing in okay neighborhoods. We needed a way around the hateful hearts of America. We needed more than freedom because a piece of paper ain't the same as opportunity or education. And some thirty years ago we agitated and we agitated until the President said, "We seek... not just equality as a right and a theory but equality as a fact and as a result." And a great rejoicing rose like a spirit dancing fresh and happy on the soon-to-be-the- integrated-and-most-uppity ballroom floor of these United States. And Black folks everywhere dressed up in African-American pride and optimism. From the littlest to the elders we shined our shoes and brushed our hair and got good and ready for "equality as a fact." But three decades later, and come to find out we never got invited to the party we never got included in "the people" we never got no kind of affirmative action worth more than a spit in the wind. And yesterday the new man in the White House/ the new President declared,"What we have done for women and minorities is a good thing, but we must respond to those who feel discriminated against...This is a psychologically difficult time for the so-called angry White man." Well I am here to tell the world that 46 percent of my children living in poverty does not feel good to me and my brothers in prison and not in college does not feel good to me psychologically or otherwise! Catch that angry White man and tell him "Get a grip!" Forty-six percent of the American labor force is constituted by White men but White men occupy 95 percent of all senior management positions! And as a wise Black man recently observed "This supposedly beleaguered minority (White males are about one-third of the population) makes up 80 percent of the Congress, four-fifths of tenured university faculty, nine-tenths of the Senate and 92 percent of the Forbes 400." Tell me who's angry! I say the problem with affirmative action seems to me like way too much affirmative talk and way too little action! And unless you happen to belong to that infinitesimal club of millionaire Black folks got one hundred and eight thousand dollars to throw into the campaign pot of their nearest and dearest full-time political racist, I think you better join with me to agitate and agitate for justice and equality we can eat and pay the rent with NOW.

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