Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"White Currants," by Amy Lowell

Racism Precedes "Hard Times"

This morning Tacoma News Tribune features an article about a walk of reconciliation that will commemorate the time in Tacoma's early history when Chinese immigrants were driven out. A sidebar piece asserts that "hard time" drove the white residents to uproot, abuse, and expel their Chinese neighbors.

The pieces are informative, but in my opinion, racism preceded the "hard times." We're living in comparatively hard times now, and they have certainly influenced the racism and other kinds of over-reaction, especially to President Obama and to immigration-issues. But if the pre-existing conditions of racism and xenophobia weren't already alive, many people would react differently to the hard times, and they'd be less likely to take the bait of cynical right-wing political manipulators like Karl Rove. People might be more tempted to focus, for example, on the chasm between rich and poor in the country--a chasm that isn't the fault of immigrants, or the health-care reforms, etc.

The News Tribune recently endorsed Republican incumbent Representative Dave Reichart. Reichart's offered to concrete solution to the chronic and acute health-care crisis, and he has sat quietly as his party slides further right and as it exploits fear and racism. Reichart was also sitting next to Rep. Joe Wilson when Wilson shouted, "You lie!" during President Obama's State of the Union message. Wilson wouldn't have shouted that if he hadn't had a pre-existing arrogant and resentful attitude toward the President and if, deep down, he felt licensed to shout because Obama is Black. Reichart sat and accepted his colleague's behavior.

Yes, times are tough, and stressed people over-react. But, regardless of their politics, more media need to speak out against the hatred, race-baiting, and fear-mongering. The Democrats are no day at the beach, and all politicians play on emotions, but it's the Republican Party--once it was Eisenhower's Party, if you can believe that--that's become a repository of hate, racism, and despotism. The News Tribune and other media can do something now, or at least say something now, about vicious pre-existing conditions similar to those that drove people to drive out the Chinese. Moderate Republicans also need to break ranks and speak out against Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Karl Rove; after all, Rove wasn't the least bit reticent to savage a fellow Republican, John McCain, when McCain was running against Bush. And the tactic was the same: exploit fear and hatred.

What would Edward R. Murrow say and do? And did any reasonable people think that Murrow student up to McCarthy because of Party politics? I doubt it. They understood Murrow was standing up to McCarthy because of what McCarthy was doing, how he was exploiting fear and hatred, and where he was taking government and politics.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Everybody Fails

*
*
*
*
*
*

Everybody Fails


Everybody fails, no exceptions. Some
get the hang of it earlier than others.
Some get trapped in it soon by
implacable circumstances. Many
arrive late at understanding failure.
Delusion drops these off at the curb.

And then there are those who get
a lot of help along the way from
people who envy and hate, who
are desperate for others to fail.

Rarer are people who help people
to succeed before, inevitably,
they fail. These helpers are otherwise
known as good people. They fail, too.
But not before they succeed
at being good.


Copyright 2010 Hans Ostrom

"Scorn Not the Sonnet," by William Wordsworth

Monday, October 18, 2010

Topics StumbleUpon Should Include

I've just started virtual "stumbling," although in real life I've been stumbling (and bumbling!) for quite some time.

StumbleUpon is another "social medium," in case you don't know. You can get a "blog" there, but usually the "blogs" consist of posted links to videos or sites. You can follow other "stumblers" and also make "friends." All of these words are in quotation marks because their meaning changes in Cyberspace.

To stumble in this context is to let whatever computer/server is in charge take you in any direction. So let's say you visit a site on gardening and then hit "stumble": it could take you to an interview with Charles Manson.

When you post or re-post something--let's say from Youtube--you will get either the prompt "Like It," and then the item becomes one of your "favorites, or a prompt that invites you to provide more information. When the latter prompt comes up, you are invited to choose topics related to the post; you choose from a pre-existing list, one that I think needs some crucial additions. To be fair, you may also add "tags," in which case you may provide your own terms and not use just StumbleUpon's.

At any rate, here are some topics that are missing from StumbleUpon's pre-set list of topics and that I think deserve to be there (no particular order):

Love
Media [and their problems/issues, including ownership--implicitly; and how odd that StumbleUpon wouldn't include this topic]
Racism
Poverty
Hunger
Fact-Check
Philanthropy [other related topics are charity and non-profit or not-for-profit--that sector of the economy]
Fascism [it includes anarchism, socialism, and capitalism already]
Nuclear Proliferation [it includes "Nuclear Science" already)
Class-Status [or Social Class]
Peace
War
Civil Rights [it includes Disabilities already--but nothing, for example, about Disability Rights]
Asian Americans [it includes already, as it should, African Americans]
Latino or Hispanic Americans (or another--perhaps more appropriate--term; see above regarding Asian Americans)

Interestingly, it includes "Latin Music" already but not one on Latino-Americans or Hispanic Americans

Okay, that's all for now.

Put a Little Love in Your Heart - Annie Lennox & Al Green

"Service," by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Dunbar," by Anne Spencer

George Orwell rolls in his grave.

"Motet XXVIII," by Eugenio Montale

"Double-Consciousness," by W.E.B. DuBois

Top Rated Video So Far

In case anyone asks, my top-rated poetry-video on Youtube is...

"Morphine"

I've been making "videos," really slide-shows, that accompany my reading of poems, mostly poems by famous writers, a few by be. "Morphine" happens to be one of mine. The most viewed video by far is "Giantess," by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Fowlie. Reality forces me to admit, however, that the gold-standard Youtube recording is by "Tom O'Bedlam" at the Spoken Verse channel--link at right.

I've been recording for about three months, and I am just now getting the hang of it. A new microphone and lots of practice helped. I'm using an AT2020 USB.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cold Poet

*
**
***
****


Cold Poet



Her poems featured
no people, and people
awarded her poetry
the Noblitzer Prize.

There was a photo
of her face, thin
and wan like a wax
candle, against
a backdrop of
a blackberry patch,
representing nature,
which her poems featured.
They featured her in nature.
In later years, she had
dried up like a golden raisin.

After she died, they laid
her in a tiny jeweler's box
for burial. They put a few
of her poems in anthologies
with titles like Vault,
Tomb, and Sarcophagus.

The people she'd left out
of her poems lived their
lives as if her poems
didn't exist. If you've
gone outside on a sunny
morning and been shocked
momentarily by how cold
the wind is, then you know
what it's like to read
one of her poems.


Copyright 2010 Hans Ostrom