Sunday, May 25, 2008

Poem: WHITE House

Throughout this nation's history, White America has struggled to come to grips with its Black population. Our Revolutionary Era focuses on the slaveholders of the South, and how the Declaration of Independence and Constitution had to soften the blow for the southern states in order to keep the Union together. The Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850 and finally the Civil War were all about the North-South divide over slavery and Black oppression. Into the 1950's and 1960's, the racial conflict went on, reaching a crescendo perhaps with the Civil Rights Movement of that time.

Always, the theme has been the same: The North was more progressive and the South filled with hatred. But the only difference between the two regions was style. The South was violent and "in your face." The North was much more subtle. Northerners were "pro-Black," but only if "they (Blacks) stayed in their own neighborhoods" and "knew their place."

Nothing changes. The South and "Heartland" of this country still hold to open hostility with regards to people of color. To many progressives in "Blue" states though, "those people" are, well, still "those people" when they try to reach for prizes deemed more than seems comfortable. Reaching for anything to justify and rationalize the fear, college theses, distant relatives' religious beliefs, a middle name, a preacher, and twisted statements become items of righteous indignation in ways that would be laughed at if the skin had less pigmentation.

This is not about telling you for whom you should vote (although the companion piece does so), but the reasons I keep hearing from too many people regarding their choices don't appear to be about substantive issues in a great many cases, but sound like right wing, FOX Noise concepts that fill me with sadness for how far we still have to go as a nation.

WHITE House


Frightened by what we fear ever knowing
Blindly to hide behind ignorance flowing
Pretend we’re enlightened ‘long as kept at a distance
If he wants any power he will meet with resistance
Cling to the rumors whether false or illusion
Buy all the nonsense if it feeds the delusion
Excuses are easy as they mask what’s in mind
Can’t enlighten a person who by fear is defined

If the image was lighter and the name less unique
Or if we opened our minds and we acted less weak
If we stepped outside smallness to remove its embrace
If it was more about issues and not about race

But it is easy to wallow in mindless portrayal
To sink to the depths of the darkest detail
No matter veracity as we hold to absurd
When the color goes black then all logic gets blurred

Copyright SGW 2008


Please read this poem's companion piece here.

8 comments:

paisley said...

i am totally apolitical,, and i am posing this as a very real question,, not one of bias for any candidate,, as i do not really know nor do i care who the next president is or should be,,, however,, since you wrote this,, and seem to think along political lines,, i need to know....

is it just me,, or is america so not ready to accept either a black or a woman in the white house??

i know we talk a big line of diversity and equality and all that,,, but when it comes down to the actual man on the street,, and the vote that he places,, i cannot imagine that america is in any way shape or form as liberal as they like to profess themselves to be...

you can feel free to delete this comment and contact me by way of email if you would like to,, but i have been thinking about this for quite some time,, and i just have to ask... my email is whypaisley@gmail.com

STP said...

I am a liberal or progressive. I generally vote for Democrats, but have occasionally voted for Republicans. I believe that George Bush has been a horrific president and is a war criminal. While I do acknowledge that Democrats have as many pockets of corruption as Republicans, and often ignore the best interests of the people, there are always incremental differences that, to me, make it worthwhile to support Democrats. They will lean toward pro-environmental policies, equal rights for gays, minorities and women, fairer tax rates, and more middle class friendly economic policies in general. There are other areas, too, but I wanted to give you this paragraph strictly for the purpose of presenting my biases, however sound I believe them.
Is America ready to elect a black or a woman? Yes and no. The point of my post stands in my mind. Many liberals are not quite as much so as they wish to be perceived when that liberalism means hitting close to home. My goal is to make them look at themselves because I believe, too, that liberals want to do right and some need a hand to see their fears for what they are. Just as our country is slowly becoming more advanced in our thinking on gay rights, so, too, can it be on blacks and women in true power positions.
That said, there are enormous pockets of resistance to this. The "heartland" of this country and the deep south have an overwhelming number of people who think gays are sinners, women belong in the kitchen (when not pregnant) and blacks are inferior or a threat. These folks are the hardcore right of the Republican Party. Fear, hate and intolerance are their calling cards.
So, back to the question then. I say yes because I feel the odds of Obama winning in November are high. I believe Clinton's would be, too. I honestly believe in this. It will be because of strong support for Democrats in certain key areas and high disapproval of Bush and the Iraq War, but, regardless, it is more likely than not.
While we will likely elect Obama (Clinton cannot win the nomination at this point), a large segment of this country hates the idea. Many do not like the thought of electing a woman, but Clinton's problem would have been more about being a Clinton, which stirs up a fair amount of disdain from people. I said Obama will win, but there will be a fair number of Democrats who will not vote for him solely because he is a black man. More than would not vote for Clinton because she is a woman. Still, he will win, I think, because more minorities will get out and vote, while many on the right will not vote due to their distrust of McCain. Call it a semi-backdoor, but I will take it.
No, this country is not as progressive as we sometimes like to believe. Many support minorities, but don't want them as a neighbor. Many are pro-gay rights, but oh how they fear their child being gay. We are more sexist as a society than we admit to. Men who are tough are called determined. Women are called bitches.
We have a long way to go. It can be disheartening. But we are further along than we've been. We have two states that allow gay marriage now. We have a black and a woman running for president, both capable of winning. We have a Muslim congressman. More minorities and women hold high level jobs and positions in society; not enough, but growing. It is all a slow and long process, but it is one that will gain footholds over time.
I know I sound like a pie in the sky, naive, fairytale-believing, sap, but there are worse things to be. Thank you for the comment and the question. I love the dialogue when it comes from a position of honesty. I also greatly appreciate your constant support of my poetry. It means a lot to me!

STP said...

I published my response to Paisley here, though I sent an E Mail, too. I will not be publishing any E Mail responses from her to me unless she posts them here herself.

SandyCarlson said...

I wonder about gender and race as matters of import. When I make a decision, I don't think, "I'm female, therefore I shall...." or, "Since I'm white I will..." I don't see race or gender as an advantage or a disadvantage, and I'm skeptical about politicians who turn them into campaign matters because it tells me they lack substance and intelligence and a desire to grapple with the matter of daily living.

Time magazine ran a wonderful issue a few months ago in which it looked at leadership styles of Clinton and Obama. That helped me quite a lot with thinking of how each might lead our nation. I was grateful for this.

STP said...

I agree and do not vote based on those traits at all, but I am curious as to whether you feel Obama has used his race or been abused by it, Clinton has used her gender or been unfairly treated due to it, and if McCain has his age ... ok, kidding on the last one.

Sara said...

I am actually very political. More so everyday. I go and vote even if I have to walk to the polls and even if there is little hope my candidate will win.

I think it is brave to post a poem like this. I keep my political beliefs mainly offline because I have no interest in arguing with people. I willing admit that I want what I want for this country and I am not willing to even consider pulling the lever for a red candidate.

I do have a unique view on Obama though because I am of mixed race, like him, but just slightly older than the twenty somethings who can so easily have faith and or not yet cynical. I was shocked when Obama won Iowa. That, to me and I think many others, can as a complete surprise. I hadn't given this country or its people the credit for being able to vote for a black man. I know there are some people that never will and that worries me because of what I long to happen in November, but the amount of people who are willing is amazing to me. I wasn't sure that many people had come that far.

It is true that racism is still very prevelant in all states and I will be the first to say that its more common than many people want to admit but I learned my lesson by watching this campaign: it is not as bad as I thought. And that's something.

If Obama makes it into the white house it could be just the thing that changes how many people think about race. It could do all the things I didn't even really think would be happening this year. I always thought the change would come slower and maybe we would have a black president before I died.

Yes there are people who will make us crazy things and try to draw attention to distractions(focus on his middle name, the clothes he wore one day, his acquantiences, etc) but some of them would do that to any democratic nominee and others would do that to any black man. What amazes me is that so many people see past it. That's the hopeful thing. I just pray that enough push aside their hidden fears and pull the lever for a chance for change for all of us.

About your poem I think it really did its job well. It made me think. It got its message across and it did so in a lyrical way.

STP said...

Sara,
First, thank you for your comment and kind words on my poem. Your comment is wonderful because it made ME think quite a bit this morning.
For starters, I like the diversity of thought between all the ideas in this thread. They are all intriguing takes from somewhat different angles.
As you can tell from some of the anti-Bush poems on this site, I freely put my political views out there. It is an important part of who I am. Even this site is named as such because it is my poetry, but also with my "leanings" politically mixed in.
Your perspective becomes of more value to me because of your mixed background (If you are the Sara I think you are, I did not know that about you, which makes me want to explore my thought process of why I assumed you were white. Not a good or bad thing, but interesting, and I am curious about images we (me?) place to people) as it adds a view I, as a white man, definitely cannot fully hold, having never walked in the shoes of someone of color.
I, too, was shocked by Iowa, and the overall white vote in this country. It has been a pleasant surprise that we have made more progress than I had thought. However, I have also been stunned by the racism via liberals that I have had sent my way via E Mails and conversations. Perhaps what I have seen is isolated? I don't know. As I said to Paisley, time will tell.
I agree with you that a President Obama could help change the way race is viewed in this country. Maybe a large majority of the nation will finally get past race as an issue in a negative sense. We can hope. Isn't that part of what Obama's message is?
Thank you so much for a wonderful exchange.

paisley said...

i had to change my domain name to whypaisley.com please change your links and or feed as necessary

all you will have to do is remove the - from between why and paisley,, everything else will remain the same and will redirect you to the correct page.... sorry for the inconvenience...