Red White And Black

When cotton was king
a people was enslaved and declared subhuman.

When corn was king
the McCormick reaper freed a million men

to serve in the Armies of the Potomac,
Cumberland and Tennessee.

Southerners’ mental gymnastics
won all the the eighteen-sixty Olympic medals.

Hypocrisy recognized by a few
caused them to teach their slaves to read and write

for the importance to know the gospels,
to come to know Jesus and salvation.

Do not dismiss the bravery of this act.
In most southern states that was a capital offense.

Before the black man was brought to the Americas,
the red man was enslaved and worked to death.

Columbus promised Isabella and Ferdinand
boat loads of New World riches,

but found only one valuable commodity
in abundance to enrich Spain.

No one heeded the Pope
when he spoke out against this practice.

How shabby our collective Christianity.
How spartan our application of the golden rule.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

Poetic license allows the Olympic medal to be awarded in 1860, when the modern Olympics did not start until 1896.

Documentation of the enslavement of Native Americans is in the book The Other Slavery, by Andrés Reséndez.

Hereditary

It is as though
I remember
my voice call out
the auction
for the buyers
of slaves
on the wharves
of Charleston Harbor
and my hand
bang the gavel
then sign
the bill of sale.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

POSTSCRIPT

I was thinking about how both guilt and trauma can pass through the generations. My ancestors were northerners and did not own slaves as far as the family record reveals. But as white people of that era, they benefited from slavery in lower prices on products produced through the labor of slaves.

I have read about the descendants of Auschwitz survivors suffering a from PTSD even though they themselves did not experience the trauma first hand.

Having read this, I wonder if this trauma can be passed on to friends and family. I wonder if care dogs become traumatized in the act of their service. I have not searched the internet for information at this time.

Brighter news. The bee balm is in full bloom and the garden is abuzz.

Love & Light

Kenneth

Clotilda

The hull of the last slave ship
was found on a Mobile River’s shore this morning.

Its sand encrusted beams
carry a painful bitterness in the hold.

Its rusted metal rings
chain the harassing abduction to memory.

Civilized meant something
different back then compared to today.

As did black and white.
Freight. Cargo. One hundred and ten Africans.

As did constitutional respect
fifty-two years after the African slave trade was outlawed.

The descendants now have
corroboration, evidence to confirm family stories.

The descendants now have
validation for Africatown, Alabama.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

POSTSCRIPT

Clotilda is the name of the last slave ship to sail from Africa to the USA. Its hull was located recently in the banks of the Mobile river north of Mobile, Alabama. National Geographic Article link. Wikipedia Link.

Personally, I am in favor of reparations being paid to African American descendants of slaves. Congress held hearings yesterday. I do not think they went well for my desired outcome.

I think reparations should be paid to Native Americans as well. White America took most the land from them, then broke everyone of the treaties we made. Not very good behavior on our part.

I missed noting yesterday was Juneteenth, the day news of the abolition of slavery reached Texas. Wikipedia.

Have a productive Thursday everyone.

Love & Light

Kenneth

Common Good

Our country has not yet come back to God
from the sale of parent and child
on the ghostly auction blocks
of our early harbor cities.

Without an accounting,
a reconciliation with nominal reparations,
this loss of true adulthood
will dog Americans through the centuries.

We see the mutual loss through inequity.
We see the attempts to rewrite history.
We see the legacy of Jim Crow.
We see the Reservation obligations ignored.

The reckoning must be held on earth,
not while failing to breach the pearly gates.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

Banned On Youtube

When Virginia Governor Northam
said indentured servants
instead of slaves,
I felt my blood pressure rise
until my head blew steam out my ears
like I was some cartoon character
dancing next to Bugs Bunny in black face,
who sang Al Jolson minstrel songs
in the Virginia state house,
oblivious to N-double-A-C-P members
ring-tossing shackles at Northam’s neck,
a crude carnival game
next to a stall where player-operated squirt guns
erased the word privilege from a white board
of governors down through Virginia’s history
all the way back to Sir George Yeardley.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

POSTSCRIPT

This interview and event took place a little over a month ago. At first, I was too pissed off to write anything on the subject. A few days went by and this poem popped out.

My writing process takes about a month from poem conception, through editing, trying it out loud, more editing, then posting the good ones.

The Bugs Bunny in black face cartoon is what was banned and removed from Youtube. I remember seeing it as a kid on Saturday morning cartoons.

Sir George Yeardley was the British governor of Virginia Colony when the first slaves were delivered by ship in August 1619.