Monday, April 16, 2007

That word, that word,
Like a Signifying Monkey we
Claimed that word for ourselves to prove
Your barefaced use of a sign which you created just for us
No longer had the power it once possessed.
But we were wrong.
The word, subtly evoking seeds of self loathing,
The word that defiled hip-hop,
Has gained the momentum of a backhand slap
Descending from, it seemed, the highest point in a
Civil rights kitchen, to the fleshy jawbone
Of the youthful mouth from which
It scarcely materialized.
We have given that word more power than before,
For now they blame us for that word,
And they use that word, expressing their own defilement,
To reclaim the power they once possessed
Over our souls.

That word, on the brink of their psyche, at the tip of their tongues,
Like a stallion at the gate, eyes bulging, teeth exposed,
Recalling for them their glorious, colonial dream,
Salvaging the politically repressed rage of tormented souls,
And wounded egos.
More powerful than we knew,
That word.


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At 8:19 AM , Blogger BLUE said...

that word ... has me in a powerful transfixed state right now. i have so many conflicting thoughts about it, and plan to blog about it eventually.

it makes me think about other words like "redneck" or the way that "bitch" can be offensive as a noun but neutral as a verb. i have a friend who is not saying "n-word" in his conversations with me these days as a substitute for the actual word - an act i find just as deplorable as the use of the word by citizens of ethnic heritages other than black.

what we will endure now, i fear, is a season of prophylactic exchange, where everything is eased down because it's the "proper" thing to do ... until the season of politeness has passed. what will be real? what will be memorex (if we are still saying the word in our private exchanges)?

on the flip side of this feeling, there is such a thing as public decorum, there's a place to use the king's (respected and respectful) English and a time to have no restraint for your tongue ... like when ou are talking to your best friend on the phone, and he says the thing he's always said, instead of his current acquiescent "n-word."

still processing this one ... thanks for the poem!


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