How can one remain calm observing the slow pass of emancipation? What do we stick to when patience is stretched out to a point where there is nothing left but rage and bewildered bias? What do we stick to when reasonable communication between people ends? What do we stick to when there is a gap beaten in stone and bleeding between two parties. What do we stick to when those self-constructed parties come to the belief of always being two and never unify again? Independently of who is the oppressed or the oppressor, the weak or the tough .Such ill communication and misconception of what place and thought they raise their claims on occupying this planet let people stick to their sickest root:
The American Civil war ended with the collapse of confederate government in spring 1865.From 1863 to 1877 the American government underwent the Reconstructional Era and granted civil rights to all freed slaves. On Manhatten Island slavery was legal until 1927. This fact reflection of the many potentials of history. It can serve humanity as a mirror, and mirror humanity its slow but steady walk. Changing law is a long processes you can deduce from the example of the civil rights movement in the United States of America. Often thought gives birth to such processes, followed by imagination and last but not least:
Billy Holiday performing ‘strange fruit
1939 Billy Holiday performed the poem ‘Strange Fruit’ (1937) singing and answered every single question I posed earlier using words written by Abel Meerpool, a tea ..–Why would we mind about who he was?
‘Pastoral scene of the gallant South The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth’ Ironic lines. A bitter text. The sound of Billy Holiday singing is desperate and jaundiced, with determination and a heavy heart she sings. ‘Strange Fruit’ consists of abold cry and an almost hysterical laugh. In short terms her performance is emotionally loaded like a thunderbolt. ‘Here is a fruit [black lynched men] for the crows to pluck For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop Here is a strange and bitter crop’
What an abominable crop!
What this poem and song leaves us with is the crop. What did people stick to who were left with more than mere lines, who were left with the actual ‘crop’ and could not escape the ‘smell of burnin’ flesh’? Black and white artists dealt with the crop, they listened to the song and commiserated together with Billy Holiday, they tried to express what they could not bare and clarify their place and belongings by understanding. Just understanding. The song does not root for action but for reflection and it puts its finger on the horror. An insecure finger still shocked and afraid of pointing at an actual human body, instead is pointing at a ‘fruit’. This trembling voice is still afraid of directly shouting ‘fuck you you racist bastards’ and ironically calls them ‘the gallant south’ with hidden disgust. Still afraid and trembling and shocked of what the eyes belonging to the finger and the voice have seen. A great part of the body has already been destroyed. But its brain preserved the power to work and fight beyond the lines drawn by wounds signalling it to stop, back off, shut up and die.
And this is amazing.
Is it our body, our brain, our finger and our voice? Facing human cruelty we can be mad and sad, angry and resigned. But: Supposing reality is a constructed something, of which I am not sure , there should be no problem in changing it, except the discrepancies of constructs it consists of. Unify power for change. The collective body collapsed and some parts died, but here we are left with the power of imagination and construction skills.
‘Strange fruit’ was published at a time where the wounds were still so deep that the courage was alife and dead at the same time in people’s minds at least that’s how I imagine it could well have been. Civil war had just ended half a century ago and half a century is a blink of an eye historically speaking. Not much happens. But people talk a lot, they write, they sing and dance thus they deconstruct and reconstruct culture and keep on going. The general tone of black music changes. It mirrors the psychosocial state the black population of the United States of America archived and vice versa the achievements reflect the development of art.What do we stick to when all tears dry?
By the passing of time feelings like blind rage and mild courage overtook Black art and music. Gangster Rap, Hip-Hop, Soul. Courage to raise voices and rage in order to fight for rights were the tears’ offspring. Rebellion.Being treated unjust and not wanting to stay what the racist population in America wanted black people to be: An oppressed doormat. They wanted blacks to feel the power whites have over them and they got too damn far with their dull will. Constructs are more fragile than one might think.
The topic is currently pivotal due to the merging right wing ideologies that merge in western political landscape. We have to fight it and secure all equality and justice that has already been achieved in often bitter struggles by our ancestors.
‘Its been a long time coming but I know change has got to come. You know and I know.’ -Otis Redding, Change is gonna come.