Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Allen seeks race-image makeover


Blogger bygpowis said...

Raleigh News and Observer
Page 4A, Nation Section
Saturday, June 13, 1998

Jasper bares no Tyler rose.
"Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees."

On this juneteenth day, I read of James Byrd Jr., his life, the curt tale chopped short. On the newspaper page, for a nation, a picture of two black women crying over James Byrd Jr.'s closed casket. Billie Mahathay is in profile. Ruthie Hadnox's got her back to me. Black and white roses --red and yellow I suppose-- and wreathes well up to their faces. I can't see their faces but the women are crying 'cause James Byrd Jr. is dead.

James Byrd Jr. was whole on June 6th, before the asphalt tore him to holy pieces. Now he's the picture on a casket --a future family flashback. Maybe they'll remember the day James got the jitter to be a musician and his Mama bought him that second-hand guitar. Or the day James got out of jail and promised he'd do her proud this time. What were the jokes James was cackling at the family party he was last seen at? If I could only know.

What will we never know about James Byrd Jr.? Heaven judged too soon and goddess will be blind. Justice will not hang in the balance.

James Byrd Jr. is dead and as a black body in the Southern breeze I should feel more than apathy. I could have easily been the soul in his truncated torso or the sole of his once free feet. I could be the great, great, great, great, grand nephew, twenty one times removed from his goddamned great grand pappy. I should feel more than apathy.

"'Vengeance is mine, said the Lord,' said the father of James Byrd Jr."

I should be roaming the streets in vigilance, to light a fire under Texas, the flag and the Alamo. So what if James' death was not caught on tape? Can't I imagine pain or am I that removed from the red pages of black history?

"Byrd's head, neck, right arm and torso were scattered along the route."

Robert Russell Brewer, 31
John William King, 23
Shaw Berry, 23

The motherf*****s tied James Byrd Jr. to a pick-up truck. He would not fly so they dragged him for miles. They thought they knew James Byrd Jr. enough to stand supreme and swing justice blind.

"Burning flesh," Billie sings.
"Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck."

And, as a black man, I should be more pissed off. Didn't we march against lynching? Didn't Billie sing about these things? Who but tomorrow's microfilm is going to tattle the James Byrd Jr. tale?

Please, remember the story if you will. Raleigh News and Observer, Nation Section, page 4A, column one. It's an article taken from the Boston Globe 'cause a Southern paper couldn't find this home grown Southern story on it’s own.

4A Nation
Please remember the story above the picture of Vice President Gore paddling a canoe in Monterrey Bay to bring awareness to the rash of oil drilling off the California coast.

4A Nation
Al Gore is appalled at the number of dead, black seals found floating off the coast --he cares about the American environment. All the living things.

"The moratorium does not, however, affect areas off the Texas coasts, where extensive drilling has been going on for years, nor does it protect any new areas not already covered by the drilling ban first imposed by President Bush in 1990, including the coastlines of the Southeast."

How close is Jasper to the Texas coast? Maybe it wasn't protected? Does the moratorium protect me in Raleigh, NC? In the Southeast? Any time? Any town, USA?

Drill all you want, Clinton and Gore seem to say. Justice paddles a canoe protecting seals. James Byrd Jr. was left wide open that day. His skin, a peel of mangled flesh left to ripen in a Jasper field.

Strange fruit these men. Supremacist, Presidents, vices and death. And us, black bodies hangin' in the Southern trees. Didn’t we used to get angry about these things? And still Billie sings, "Strange Fruit"

"for the rain to gather
for the wind to suck
for the sun to rot
for the trees to dry out."

9:27 PM  
Blogger jenny said...

Thanks bygpowis, this breaks my heart still

11:05 AM  

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