Archive for ‘Historical’

Sunday, 28 June 2020

On the Flogging of Women by Charlotte Elizabeth Browne Phelan Tonna

No. 21 of the Anti-slavery Reporter contains some particulars of the Jamaica Debate on Lord Bathurst’s proposition for “the abolishing of the driving whip, the regulation and record of punishments, and the abolition of female flogging.”

It was not even proposed, that driving in the field, or the flogging of females should be abolished; but merely that the cat should be substituted for the cart-whip both to coerce labour, and to inflict punishment; and that in the whipping of women there should be no indecent exposure.

The clause for substituting the cat for the cart-whip was negatived by a majority of 28 to 12 as was that for prohibiting the indecent exposure of women. However painful to the feelings the knowledge of these proceedings may be, it is better they should be known and reprobated, whithRegularized:with a view to their suppression, than
perpetuated to future generations by a weak concealment of truth.

How much is it to be wished that the planters who thus voted for the flogging of women could be induced to peruse the following lines:

Bear’st thou a man’s, a Christian’s name;
If not for pity, yet for shame.
O fling the scourge aside!
Her tender form may writhe and bleed,
But deeper cuts thy barbarous deed
The female’s modest pride.

Sin first by woman came;- for this
The Lord hath marr’d her earthly bliss,
With many a bitter throe;
But mercy tempers wrath, and scorn
Persues the wretch who adds a thorn
To heaven-inflicted woe.

Thine infancy was lull’d to rest
On woman’s nurturing bosom prest,
Enfolded by her arm;
Her hand upheld thy tott’ring pace;-
And Oh! how deep the foul disgrace,
If thine can work her harm!

Hush not they nature’s conscious plea
Weak, helpless, succourless, to thee
Her looks for mercy pray;
He who records each lash, will roll
Torrents of vengeance on thy soul!-
Oh! fling that scourge away.


Date: 1827

By: Charlotte Elizabeth Browne Phelan Tonna (1790-1846)

Friday, 26 June 2020

Give Me the Red On the Black of the Bullet by Jayne Cortez (Sallie Jayne Richardson)

(For Claude Reece Jr.*)

Bring back the life
of Claude Reece Jr.

I want the bullet from his chest
to make a Benin bronze
to make an explosion of thunder
to make a cyclone

I want the 14 years of Claude Reece Jr.
shot on the 15th day of september
shot in the back of his head
shot by a police officer
shot for being black

Give me the black on the red of the bullet
i want to make a tornado
to make an earthquake
to make a fleet of stilts
for the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
the blackness called dangerous weapon
called resisting arrest
called nigger threat

I want the life of the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
i want the bullet from his chest
yo make a protective staff for startled children
to make hooks and studs
for warrior masks

Give me the bullet with the odor
and the smoke and the skin and
the hair of Claude Reece Jr.
i want to make power
to make power
for the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
the blackness called pent-up frustration
called unidentified negro
called nigger revolutionary

I want the life of the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
i want the bullet from his chest
to make a protective staff for startled children
to make a Benin bronze
to make an explosion of thunder
to make a cyclone
i want the bullet to bring back the blood
of Claude Reece Jr.
i want to make justice

I want to make justice for
the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.
bring back the bullet with the blood of the blackness
of Claude Reece Jr.
i want to make justice
i want to make justice for the blackness of Claude Reece Jr.

*Claude Reese Junior, aged 14 years, was shot in the head by police officer Frank Bosco in Brooklyn, New York, on 15 September 1974.

From: Cortez, Jayne, “Give Me the Red on the Black of the Bullet” in To Our Comrads Inside New Year’s Book 1987 from the Real Dragon Project, 1987, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1977

By: Jayne Cortez (Sallie Jayne Richardson) (1934-2012)

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

The Slave’s Address to British Ladies by Susanna(h) Watts

Natives of a land of glory,
Daughters of the good and brave,
Hear the injured Negro’s story,
Hear, and help the kneeling Slave.
Think, how nought but death can sever
Your lov’d children from your hold ;
Still alive—but lost for ever—
Ours are parted, bought and sold!
Seize the ev’ry favouring season—
Scorning censure or applause ;
Justice, Truth, Religion, Reason,
Are your Leaders in the cause!
Follow!—faithful, firm, confiding,—
Spread our wrongs from shore to shore;
Mercy’s God your efforts guiding,
Slavery shall be known no more.

From: Watts, Susannah, “The Slave’s Address to British Ladies” in The Kaleidoscope: or, Literary and scientific mirror, Liverpool, Vol. 9, Iss. 422, 29 July 1828, p. 28.

Date: 1828

By: Susanna(h) Watts (1768-1842)

Friday, 19 June 2020

A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay

Is that Eric Garner* worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

*Eric Garner, a 44-year-old African American man, died in 2014 after being put in a chokehold by a NYPD officer. His last words were “I can’t breathe”.


Date: 2015

By: Ross Gay (1974- )

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Racism/Many Faces by Roberta “Bobbi” Barkley Patterson Sykes

A woman said to me
T’ other day…..
I read one of your poems
About women,
I thought it very good
It didn’t say that you
were BLACK.

Now I meet you and
see that you
I wonder
Why you wrote the poem?

Do they think
we spend
our whole lives
being BLACK
for them?


Date: 1979

From: Roberta “Bobbi” Barkley Patterson Sykes (1943-2010)

Monday, 15 June 2020

I’m Not the Indian You Had in Mind by Thomas King

I’m not the Indian you had in mind
I’ve seen him
Oh, I’ve seen him ride,
a rush of wind, a darkening tide
with Wolf and Eagle by his side
his buttocks firm and well defined
my god, he looks good from behind
But I’m not the Indian you had in mind.

I’m not the Indian you had in mind
I’ve heard him
Oh, I’ve heard him roar,
the warrior wild, the video store
the movies that we all adore
the clichés that we can’t rewind,
But I’m not the Indian you had in mind.

I’m not the Indian you had in mind
I’ve known him
Oh, I’ve known him well,
the bear-greased hair, the pungent smell
the piercing eye, the startling yell
thank God that he’s the friendly kind,
But I’m not the Indian you had in mind.

I’m that other one.
The one who lives just down the street.

the one you’re disinclined to meet
the Oka guy, remember me?
Ipperwash? Wounded Knee?

That other Indian.
the one who runs the local bar
the CEO, the movie star,
the elder with her bingo tales
the activist alone in jail

That other Indian.
The doctor, the homeless bum
the boys who sing around the drum
the relative I cannot bear
my father who was never there
he must have hated me, I guess
my best friend’s kid with FAS
the single mum who drives the bus
I’m all of these and they are us.

So damn you for the lies you’ve told
and damn me for not being bold
enough to stand my ground
and say
that what you’ve done is not our way

But, in the end the land won’t care
which one was rabbit, which one was bear
who did the deed and who did not
who did the shooting, who got shot
who told the truth, who told the lie
who drained the lakes and rivers dry
who made us laugh, who made us sad
who made the world Monsanto mad
whose appetites consumed the earth,
it wasn’t me, for what it’s worth.

Or maybe it was.
But hey, let’s not get too distressed
it’s not as bad as it might sound
hell, we didn’t make this mess.
It was given us
and when we’re gone
as our parents did
we’ll pass it on.

You see?
I’ve learned your lessons well
what to buy, what to sell
what’s commodity, what’s trash
what discount you can get for cash

And Indians, well, we’ll still be here
the Real One and the rest of us
we’ve got no other place to go
don’t worry, we won’t make a fuss

Well, not much.

Though sometimes, sometimes late at night
when all the world is warm and dead
I wonder how things might have been
had you followed, had we led.

So consider as you live your days
that we live ours under the gaze

of generations watching us
of generations still intact
of generations still to be
seven forward, seven back.

Yeah, it’s not easy.

Course you can always go ask that brave you like so much
the Indian you idolize
perhaps that’s wisdom on his face
compassion sparkling in his eyes.
He may well have a secret song
a dance he’ll share, a long-lost chant
ask him to help you save the world
to save yourselves.
Don’t look at me.
I’m not the Indian you had in mind.
I can’t.

I can’t.


Date: 2007

By: Thomas King (1943- )

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Booker T. and W.E.B. by Dudley Randall

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.,
“It shows a mighty lot of cheek
To study chemistry and Greek
When Mister Charlie needs a hand
To hoe the cotton on his land,
And when Miss Ann looks for a cook,
Why stick your nose inside a book?”

“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,
“If I should have the drive to seek
Knowledge of chemistry or Greek,
I’ll do it. Charles and Miss can look
Another place for hand or cook.
Some men rejoice in skill of hand,
And some in cultivating land,
But there are others who maintain
The right to cultivate the brain.”

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.,
“That all you folks have missed the boat
Who shout about the right to vote,
And spend vain days and sleepless nights
In uproar over civil rights.
Just keep your mouths shut, do not grouse,
But work, and save, and buy a house.”

“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.,
“For what can property avail
If dignity and justice fail.
Unless you help to make the laws,
They’ll steal your house with trumped-up clause.
A rope’s as tight, a fire as hot,
No matter how much cash you’ve got.
Speak soft, and try your little plan,
But as for me, I’ll be a man.”

“It seems to me,” said Booker T.—
“I don’t agree,”
Said W.E.B.

*“Booker T.” – Booker Taliaferro Washington (1856-1915) was a key proponent of the Atlanta compromise which was an agreement that Southern Blacks would submit to white political rule (in return for Southern whites supplying basic education and due process in law).
“W.E.B.” – William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) opposed the Atlanta compromise and insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation for all African-Americans.


Date: 1969

By: Dudley Randall (1914-2000)

Friday, 12 June 2020

The British by Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah

Serves 60 million

Take some Picts, Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors.

Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously.

Mix some hot Chileans, cool Jamaicans, Dominicans,
Trinidadians and Bajans with some Ethiopians, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Sudanese.

Then take a blend of Somalians, Sri Lankans, Nigerians
And Pakistanis,
Combine with some Guyanese
And turn up the heat.

Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians,
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese
And Palestinians
Then add to the melting pot.

Leave the ingredients to simmer.

As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish
Binding them together with English.

Allow time to be cool.
Add some unity, understanding, and respect for the future,
Serve with justice
And enjoy.

Note: All the ingredients are equally important. Treating one ingredient better
than another will leave a bitter unpleasant taste.

Warning: An unequal spread of justice will damage the people and cause
pain. Give justice and equality to all.

From: Zephaniah, Benjamin, Wicked World!, 2000, Puffin Books: London, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 2000

By: Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah (1958- )

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

If I Forget Thee, O Birmingham! by John Henry Newman Beecher

Like Florence from your mountain.
Both cast your poets out
for speaking plain.
You bowl your bombs down aisles
where black folk kneel
to pray for your blacker souls.

Dog-town children bled
A, B, O, AB as you.
Christ’s blood is not more read.

Burning my house to keep
them out, you sowed wind. Hear it blow!
Soon you reap.


Date: 1966

By: John Henry Newman Beecher (1904-1980)

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Primer For Blacks by Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks

is a title,
is a preoccupation,
is a commitment Blacks
are to comprehend—
and in which you are
to perceive your Glory.

The conscious shout
of all that is white is
“It’s Great to be white.”
The conscious shout
of the slack in Black is
“It’s Great to be white.”
Thus all that is white
has white strength and yours.

The word Black
has geographic power,
pulls everybody in:
Blacks here—
Blacks there—
Blacks wherever they may be.
And remember, you Blacks, what they told you—
remember your Education:
“one Drop—one Drop
maketh a brand new Black.”
Oh mighty Drop.
______And because they have given us kindly
so many more of our people

stretches over the land.
the Black of it,
the rust-red of it,
the milk and cream of it,
the tan and yellow-tan of it,
the deep-brown middle-brown high-brown of it,
the “olive” and ochre of it—
marches on.

The huge, the pungent object of our prime out-ride
is to Comprehend,
to salute and to Love the fact that we are Black,
which is our “ultimate Reality,”
which is the lone ground
from which our meaningful metamorphosis,
from which our prosperous staccato,
group or individual, can rise.

Self-shriveled Blacks.
Begin with gaunt and marvelous concession:
YOU are our costume and our fundamental bone.

All of you—
you COLORED ones,
you NEGRO ones,
those of you who proudly cry
“I’m half INDian”—
those of you who proudly screech
“I’VE got the blood of George WASHington in MY veins”
ALL of you—
you proper Blacks,
you half-Blacks,
you wish-I-weren’t Blacks,
Niggeroes and Niggerenes.



Date: 1980

By: Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks (1917-2000)