Black Poetry: American History by Michael S. Harper

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The history is there. It exists. Don’t act like the stuff you received in school was the whole truth and nothing but. The schools lied to you.

by Michael S. Harper

American History

Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn’t find them.
Can’t find what you can’t see
can you?

From Images of Kin by Michael S. Harper, published by University of Illinois Press. © 1970 by Michael S. Harper.

Author

Michael S. Harper

Michael S. Harper was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1938.

Date Published: 1970-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/american-history

~~~~

There are so many events we can name where people were killed- shot at- just because of their skin. They did nothing wrong. Going to church should not be a death sentence. Never.

And those people who shoot them aren’t marked terrorist. “Because whites can’t be terrorists.” Why can’t whites be terrorists? Do we say that just to keep up the thin veil? The pretend? As if our entire white history in this country wasn’t all white terrorism? As if this entire nation wouldn’t even exist without white terrorism?

And on top of that. On top of the white terrorism the United States of America was founded on. We stole human beings from other places and forced them into service. We treated them less than war criminals.

American History is filled with evil actions. Until we teach the truth, there will be no end to the fight.

Being honest about what our ancestors did and went through is required before we can move forward.

If we can create a New Deal just like FDR’s but focusing in on POC, we can make amends. It would be possible. The original New Deal was only meant for whites. White males at that. We need a real deal. One that truly offers every human in this country the allowance for “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Until then, we fight. We have to.


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