a strange and bitter crop


how do you write about the strange fruit in america these past months?

how do you write about it as a person with skin so light that i always pass in every situation?

maybe you don’t write about it.

but i don’t know how not to.

as each video was shared i understood that this was not new.  but rather the public was just now privy to an old, old story.  that these videos were new for mainstream media, they were new for the privileged.

but it was nothing new for people with black bodies.

we, those who have existed in ignorance, were only beginning to witness the normal of the oppressed.


“The expectation that catching things on video tape is going to save us is deeply flawed and even when things like Eric Garner’s killing is caught on tape that doesn’t necessarily mean anything is going to happen.”

“You really can’t be an African-American in this country and see the Walter Scott video and be completely amazed.  You just don’t have the luxury of living that way.”  

–  Ta-Nehisi Coates


Ta-Nehisi Coates says it better.  Read him.

i live in detroit.  i am the minority on my block.  i’ve lived here for four years.

when the michael brown decision came back i wondered what it would be like outside my door.  i thought my neighbors might act differently, that maybe i’d be ignored or ostracized.

i was wrong.

it was exactly the same.

it was truly just another day in the life.

we said hello from our porches.  people got in the cars and went to work.  we picked up our kids from school and pulled our garbage cans in from the streets at night.

and it was this more than any other thing spoke to me about black reality.

we were experiencing their normal.

and really that their normal was our normal.

we were both looking at the american reality to the american dream – but my neighbors were light years ahead of me.  i was just starting to comprehend the whole of this old, old story.

it was then that i was determined to make eye contact with every person who walked by me.  to say hello.  to say good morning.  to acknowledge the humanity of each person i encountered no matter what.  to work against the fear in myself to prejudge and to assume.

to assume the best of each person instead of the worst.

tree shadows

there’s nothing heroic about that.

it is so small.

but little by little we either fail or succeed.


there’s another old, old story that i am always beginning to comprehend.

another story of innocent blood and of its power.

it cannot be silent and dead people don’t stay dead.

that’s what the old, old story has taught me.

is it possible to wake up from The Dream as Coates calls it?

i am slow to learn.  but these times are important.  i credit the election of a president with a black body.  it has mattered.  it may be, in part, why the videos and the revelations have been accepted into the media and put on our radar.  i credit the seeds sown by the civil rights movement and the innocent blood that has watered those seeds all these long years since.

i credit the vast generosity and imagination of americans with black bodies who have lived among their oppressors, lived in occupied territories, for longer than any person without a black body can comprehend.

i credit words from new voices who are brave and willing to write letters to their sons.

maybe one day a better fruit will grow?

it feels wrong to even ask that question.

but still; maybe one day a better fruit will grow?

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