Sunday, April 26, 2015

Baltimore. Freddie Gray. Ferguson. Michael Brown. North Charleston. Walter Scott. Leon the Poet (Baltimore): "We do not speak the same language. We forgot how to speak in English and learned how to speak in tongues. You can hear the sound of a beating drum whenever we open our mouths."

This back to Amadou Diallo and to Rodney King and to lynching generally—this white American pastime—James Chaney in 1964—Laura Nelson in 1911—George Meadows in 1889—others—thousands of others—this holocaust. So to remember, and to feel through this remembering, the number of African American men and women lynched between 1865 and WWII: 40,000.

Amiri Baraka (1999): "Word. Music. Dun Dun mean Drum Speaks. Talking drum. Music must speak from the word. Whole word—Sound, syllable, rhythm, content, forming, tempo, meter, cadence." And again Baraka:
Drum and Africa     (Dig, Pygmies had neither DRUM nor GOD!
                                 Very Old Folk)
Drum and Europe   (Why the European essential marginalization of
                                 Drum .... Aesthetic or Political?)

And here Baraka as Leroi Jones, Blues People (1963): "The endlessly repeated line of the shout or holler might also have been due to the relative paucity of American words the average field Negro possessed, the rhyme line being much more difficult to supply because of the actual limitation singing in American imposed."

And, in the same year, the essay "Expressive Language" (1963): "And it follows, of course, that slavery would have been an even stranger phenomenon had the Africans spoken English when they first got here. It would have complicated things. Very soon after the first generations of Afro-Americans mastered this language, they invented white people called Abolitionists." For my own part, I would gladly be one of these invented white people.