Write About a Political Event




How Do I Comfort My Frightened Son After the Election?
I Tell Him How Our People Have Survived

When I was a child in South Carolina, survival was never a question. My grandparents, only a generation removed from enslavement and having witnessed the cruelty of this country’s racism daily, from the Whites Only signs that plagued pools and restaurants to the way they were forced to walk through their Southern world — eyes downcast from white folks, “Yes, ma’am” and “No, sir” more rule than reverence — knew that this was just where they were at this moment. Nothing surprised them. Nothing was shocking. They had seen black men hanging from trees, images of Emmett Till’s brutal beating, German shepherds unleashed on children, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges being spat on by grown white men and women. In all my childhood, I never heard my grandparents say that anything shocked or surprised them. They knew what their country was capable of.

Still, our nights, spent on the front porch, were as sweet as the tea my grandmother made and filled with stories of their everyday living. While so many of the stories are long forgotten, what stays with me is the way they could take a bitter moment, lace it with a turn of phrase or cluck of the tongue and excavate humor. More than once I heard my grandmother say, “I’m laughing to keep from crying.” As a child, I didn’t know what that meant. I do now. In this way, my grandparents moved through the South, through the civil rights movement, through the country’s violent resistance to change, the rage of white people, the many deaths of black people. And like so many from their generation, they didn’t live to see the changes they had fought so hard for.

My son is 8 years old. He wears glasses and has curly brown hair with a green mohawk, an affinity for “Calvin and Hobbes” and a developing tween-edged sarcasm that makes a mother do an I know you didn’t just say what I thought I heard you say double-take. He is tall for his age, has a deep aversion to guns, knows who Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice are, has never known this country without a brown president whose platform was Hope. For my son, enormous change, up to this point, has been theoretical. He has always lived in his house, always been circled by the same big sister, parents, bevy of aunts and uncles and cousins. Walking toward a greater good has been drummed into his marrow. And as the numbers came in on election night I watched him head to his room, his head down, his shoulders curving into his chest. I saw my son bending against the shattered promises of not only his country but also his own family. Read more...



— after William H. Gass

The work such woman does in the world works on her . . . her movements her perceptions her loves. Life is intolerable in a society that does not value/want her gift; especially when it does not want the vision she must espouse in the act of putting herself in the world thru art. What does Sapphire envision? Her innate loveliness of which she may be defensive or insecure. But if she seeds her self-doubt in a nurturing self-love she may harvest the rapture of creation. Otherwise she may fill herself with hate, but will her skin contain it? Hate blurs. Certainly she cannot create when her vision is blurred/out-ofsync/arhythmic. Rhythm is a state of concentration so complete it leaves her defenseless, opens to all in tune with it. Intonation is her other means/meaning into sensation by which her faculties embrace/subvert. To achieve satiation upon embracing she must see the world she enlarges (with her art) clearly if not without fear. She is its lover and she must excite it until its richness rises in response to her Afro-centric beauty perceived at last. To openly hate and fear her lover is to invite rape. She must see the hardness in the blood, yet recognize the hardness as required for effective penetration/dialogue. Therefore she is the natural enemy of social oppression/impotence. She resists the aesthetic softness of a society that would sublimate/smother her spirit. In this context her subversion is catholic, but given sufficient direction/education her willfulness undermines everything false with exacting precision. In the end her society will reject or even destroy her. History is clear on this point. To insure her place in the world Sapphire must make her art her revolution. And in so making she must remain undaunted, without compromise. She must be aware of the power which extends thru her bones, the profound stubborn belief in the absolute importance of her vision.

Wanda Coleman, from Hand Dance




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(Matthew, 27)

Jesus before Pilate said nothing. And the governor marveled greatly. He says to himself: "One does not meet up with this kind of man everyday. What pleasure it would have given me to discuss ideas with him, if only my official duties did not preclude such things!" He eyes Jesus with longing. But his right hand clasps the hand of the armrest, a reminder of the sphere of the Empire whose faithful and no doubt well-paid official he is. And then, there is Caiaphas, swollen with hatred under his priestly robes, unwilling to let pass this opportunity to unite the skepticism of the Sadducees with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees against the Son of Man. And last of all, there is the mob, calling for Barabbas, that good fellow who already has one foot outside the prison while the carpenters are finishing the cross within. Government, Clergy, Populace: before these three powers, Pilate has only to wash his hands. Everyone here is a prisoner of his office, of his facade, and everyone looks through his mask at the only one who wears no mask, the only one who in fact is one, who looks into the center of his being and sees the living truth: that truth whose name alone so utterly absorbs poor Pontius Pilate.


- Rene Daumal (tr. by Katherine Washburn)