The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #90399 Message #1947820
Posted By: wysiwyg
25-Jan-07 - 01:53 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Pick a Bale of Cotton
Subject: RE: Origins: Pick a Bale of Cotton
It's about so much more than the N-word, and it's presence or absence. And to sing or not sing a song like this is not within Azizi's power to grant as OK-- it's bigger than any individual. You have to THINK about it for yourself and find your peace with what is true about it, the best you can.
Every year there's Black History Month in schools, focused mostly I guess on lifting up the positive role models of African American culture-- and I'm glad that happens, but it seems to happen in a vaccum where the rest of the year, both the positives and the painful realities are again absent from mainstream education.
In the last year I've seen three different "History of the KKK" programs that make the issues crystal-clear. It's difficult to see how the graphic adult reportage there can be transferred to what children can handle, but the challenge remains. I don't know what to do about that.
All I know is, no matter how much "better" anyone can say things are today, there are still a whole lot of Black folk dead, missing, unburied, tortured, beaten, underpaid, and/or disrespected in the present-time memory of only a small part of our national population. The pain of the memory seems to be inverse to the number of people who carry it. Just today the indictment of another Klansman was announced for yet another, forgotten-by-many atrocity. That news is on, in the background on my TV, while at the same time, this song is being discussed as if it occurs in a vacuum. I can hear the air rushing-- faintly, but that vacuum isn't as absolute as it was.
We may feel like Leadbelly's song is far back in the past. We may feel like the experience the song evokes is from a long-ago time, having nothing to do with the present. The truth is, they're actually well within our present experience, along with all the mess of that time.
It's the fashion now to deplore Policital Correctness. I deplore it too, because I prefer being able to talk about stark reality-- it doesn't mean that by simply labeling something as the hated "PC," we can expect to dismiss every effort to explore dark reality.