Monday, February 16, 2015

"Who Will Teach Us?

"Who taught you to hate yourself"
asked Malcolm X, 5 May 1962, L.A.

I for one little white boy
was taught by U.S. news-culture
(noose-culture) to be afraid of Malcolm X.

Lord, I could not muster up the fear.
Instead the face and words and name
entranced me at age eight. There
was the force, precision, and logic
of prophecy. Often I spoke
the magic words Malcolm X
and Willie Mays to the cool
hall of my mind.

Sure, maybe call it an early encounter
with charisma. But oh it has outlasted
the Kennedy charm, which seemed
like an expensive mechanism.

An imprint that remains from Malcolm X
and those times
is of a fiercely focused, dedicated
life--all the stuff of slough discarded.
He was a virtuoso of humanity.

We haven't learned yet,
especially us whites, how to take in,
accept, and struggle with such love,
such proper, unsentimental love.

For such love cuts through
the vicious, viscous lies
on which the flabby thing, Whiteness,

Who taught us never, never
to tolerate such truth?
Who taught us to fear such fearlessness,
and to hide ourselves from such seeking?
Who will teach us otherwise?

hans ostrom 2015

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