Tag Archives: racism

Sorrow Home

Margaret Walker

Walker was born in Birmingham, Alabama on July 7, 1915.
– Her mother was named Marion Dozier Walker and she was a musician
– Her father was named Sigismund C. Walker and he was a Methodist minister
– She was taught philosophy and poetry as a young child
– In 1943 she married Firnist James Alexander
– She had four children
– She passed away on November 30, 1988 in Chicago due to cancer

Sorrow Home                                     Margaret Walker

 

My roots are deep in southern life; deeper than John Brown

 

or Nat Turner or Robert Lee. I was sired and weaned

in a tropic world. The palm tree and banana leaf,

mango and coconut, breadfruit and rubber trees know

me.

 

Warm skies and gulf blue streams are in my blood. I belong

 

with the smell of fresh pine, with the trail of coon, and

the spring growth of wild onion.

 

I am no hothouse bulb to be reared in steam-heated flats

 

with the music of El and subway in my ears, walled in

by steel and wood and brick far from the sky.

 

I want the cotton fields, tobacco and the cane. I want to

 

walk along with sacks of seed to drop in fallow ground.

Restless music is in my heart and I am eager to be

gone.

 

O Southland, sorrow home, melody beating in my bone and

 

blood! How long will the Klan of hate, the hounds and

the chain gangs keep me from my own?

 

 

Another poem from Margaret Walker:

 

For My People

 

I want to write

I want to write the songs of my people.

I want to hear them singing melodies in the dark.

I want to catch the last floating strains from their sob-torn

 

throats.

 

I want to frame their dreams into words; their souls into

 

notes.

 

I want to catch their sunshine laughter in a bowl;

fling dark hands to a darker sky

and fill them full of stars

then crush and mix such lights till they become

a mirrored pool of brilliance in the dawn.

 

 

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Lexicon

This poem reminds me of my own discomfort when meeting someone new and trying to think of the best get acquainted questions. Many people do persist in clinging to misinformation when it comes to “others”. My advice? Differentiating is good for you!

 

Lexicon                                                                                   Amy Uyematsu

try not to be insulted

when they call us oriental.

let exotic be a compliment.

even the most educated among them

will ask how long we’ve been here,

be genuinely surprised we speak English so well.

don’t expect other wrongnamed people to be any better.

immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico

will keep calling us Chino,

even when we explain we were born here.

“you know what we mean,” they’ll say,

and we’ll tell them our parents were born here too.

“you know what we mean,” they’ll insist,

so we tell them our grandparents came from Japan.

they’ll nod their heads,

still calling us Chino when they talk among themselves.

don’t let these daily misunderstandings get to you.

 

learn how to differentiate.

slant eyes is o.k.

but not you slanteyes, tighteyes, sliteyes, zipperheads.

to most of them Jap, Chink, or Gook all mean the same.

don’t let them tell us that “kill

the fuckin Gook,” spoken in combat,

to separate from “too many Chinks moving in”

to Anaheim, California, or Biloxi, Mississippi.

watch the mouth and eyes carefully as they say the words

maybe our closest friends can call us crazy Japs,

but be cautious when their talks turns

to those sneaky Japs who attacked Pearl Harbor,

who deserved to be put away in camps,

bombed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

pay close attention to headlines

which warn about “influx,” “imbalance,” “invasion.”

don’t consider any place safe anymore.

watch what they hide in their hands.

in Raleigh, North Carolina, Ming Hai Loo

was gunned down by two brothers

who hated Vietnamese. Loo was Chinese.

and it didn’t matter if Vincent Chin

was clubbed to death

by two Detroit autoworkers

who mistook him for Japanese.

 

don’t expect them to ask us our real names.

don’t even try.