TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Has the Blues about the Murder of Sean Bell

Some time ago, about 30 years ago, I was in Theresa's, a neighborhood bar on the South side of Chicago. I was sitting at a big table with a blues harmonica player named Junior Wells, a couple of musicians that backed him up and several musicians who just dropped by. I was there to sell a few songs I'd written, but I received something much more valuable than money-- the wisdom and mother-wit that expressed in words what was really in my heart.

These black musicians were talking among themselves about the blues; and here's the gist of it. Anyone can get the blues, but when you grow up down South, work all day long in hot cotton fields and get beaten down by humiliating discrimination (be "treated like a slave," I believe is the way one of them put it), or grow up in a ghetto poor and hungry, then you don't get the blues, you HAVE the blues. Although they didn't put it in these exact words, it sound as if they were saying that to be born black and poor in the US is to HAVE the blues. I remember one of them saying in stunning yet remarkably effective ebonics, " I has the blues and its a constant botheration. "

Okay, I know this is not the best way to start a new blog, but I'm going to say it straight-up: I'm very aware of my blues today, but it's not just a general blues feeling. I have the blues for Sean Bell, a 23 year old black man who was shot 50 times by New York police officers on the night before his wedding; and he didn't have a gun. I have the blues for Nicole, his girlfriend and wife-to-be, who had to suffer through a judge's verdict of no guilty, and who must raise two kids without Sean.

Listen, Nicole: I don't know you personally. I don't even live anywhere near you. But if I did know you, if I did live near you, I'd drive over and slip this poem into your mailbox. It's a poem about us, about African American people, about a blues people. Ultimately, it's about survival:

Survival

We are like flowers on the banks of Mount St. Helens
Always near the crest of outburst, the jutting fire
The smoldering flame

Scalded with heat, covered with ash, abandoned
To wither with the frying dead again
And again

Still
we rise, recollect and return to green next spring
We rise, even bloom here and there
Moist petals with deep roots

Still
We rise. A sun people fresh grown
To breathe clear air. We rise

We will always rise

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful poem! The concept of what strength means -- and not what media images and misguided socialization has led us to believe it it -- is sorely needed. Make us think!! We're tough, we can take it : )

SagaciousHillbilly said...

That is one lifting piece of poetry.

It used to be that almost every working person had to, at one time or another picked themselves up and just trudged on to better things no matter how bad they got beat. Seems these days that a lot of people just never have to do that. . . for many reasons they just don't have to. That aint good.
"misguided socialization." That's a good word for it.

MacDaddy said...

Thanks for the compliment about the poem. But i'm thinking about what you said about how it seems everyone felt that they had to work hard and achieve but how that may have changed, at least with some people.

I see that too. I know guys, some black, some hispanic, who looked for jobs at first but then worked temp jobs for a while. When they didn't get anywhere doing this, they gave up and either started selling drugs or joined a gang, or both. Since they're younger than me, it's kinda hard to talk to them. But they've definitely given up. I'm hoping the economy will turn around and they'll be able to find jobs before they end up in prison. Be well.

Nuninthehood said...

We 'Has the BLUES' here in our North Minneapolis community this week....You see, one of our neighbors, a 15 year old girl it turns out...was murdered by her 29 year old boyfriend just a few blocks from here. Naturally, we and several other concerned neighbors went over to the scene of the crime.....What I found offensive was that it was as if we were watching an episode of CSI, andthe actors did not acknowledge our presence. After all, WE are the folks who live here. WE are the ones trying to build that Beloved Community MLK spok of. I wish that our law enforcement people could learn some of the art of community policing...These situations would be more bearable. As it is, we have to get the details from the media. I totally compassionate with Nicole, the fiance of the man who was murdered in a parking lot the eve of their wedding. She,too, needs to be heard and justice needs to be served.

MacDaddy said...

nuninthehood: Well stated. I know that the police have a certain protocol that's connected to collecting evidence. But wouldn't it be wonderful if they could also take the time to ask some questions to the crowd that has gathered like "Did anyone see what happened?"

On a more positive note, thank you for all the work that you and the Sisters of Visitation do on the near North side community. I also appreciate Councilman Samuel's work calling attention to violence and and his Sondra Samuels work with youth through the Peace Foundation. Blessings.

MountainLaurel said...

I feel quite fortunate that Sagacious Hillbilly has re-posted one of your blog posts, for then I was able to come and see your blog from the beginning.

You have a beautiful and expressive voice. I'm looking forward to reading more.

And I may have to try your "no-news-day" idea. I find it too tough to keep up with both mainstream news and the real truth, so I often just watch the mainstream so that I can see what the folks are reacting to. your one day seems like a great idea. Perhaps, if we can get a collaborative when we do a no-news day, we can post items to keep up the rest of us on the our network days?

MacDaddy said...

Mountain: Good idea. Let's not just take an idea; but take a day off from the corporate news and just blog about what we're doing to keep up with what's happening. Violence on the streets. How the independent trucking business is going under due to the high cost of diesel fuel. An article or book that you're reading that you feel is really is really important. A new blog you've found that's really informative. Etc. Let's give it some thought. Can you come to my site and let me know if you have any other ideas? I'm open.

MountainLaurel said...

I think we should. Perhaps we should make it a monthly thing..say, the 18th of every month we should have a no-news day. I'd not be able to start for a month or so as I'm wrapping up my current job, moving, and starting a new job(gasp!). I think this is a great idea that we shouldn't pass up! I"m sure I can get some blogfriends to participate as well.

MacDaddy said...

Mountain: I love the idea. Question: should we consider one day of each month or a particular day of each month, say, the third Sunday of every month? Which do you think is more likely to work?

I don't want us to drop the ball on this. So-could you get back to me in a couple of weeks to see if we could finalize it? Meanwhile, i'll talk to some other bloggers. One good thing we have going for us will be the good weather. People are less likely to watch tv if they hang out on a beach or walk in the park.

MountainLaurel said...

Will do. Perhaps the say, third Thursday of each month?

If you don't hear from me (especially considering how complex my life is getting), how about sending me an email? Or posting here as I'm signed to follow up comments? Thanks a million!