04 March 2015



Astonishing to learn PING PING shocking
about Slavery by Another Name
and finally get that Great Migrations
have causes, pressured by injustice piled
on oppression that looks like total hate.

But my head’s been under a barrel as
if need-to-know applied and race matters
did not, as if I needed protection
from truthful pain and I am bewildered
PING PING shocked that white could wash such abuse—

Whitewash economic profit based on
imprisoned labor, prison sentences
for walking talking relaxing and then
disappearance into iron mines, road
grading and cotton fields PING PING shocking.

How could states gain such power over black
American lives?  How could whites turn blind
and obscure the truth in darkness and in
early graves?  Forced labor concentration
camps were Nazi Germany—never ours.

PING PING shocked, enough!  enough? enough, now.
If not for The New Jim Crow, if not for
the murder of Michael Brown (rest his soul),
if not for Hands Up! Don’t Shoot! and Black Lives
Matter, would I know these atrocities?

I add ignorance to the list of white
privilege hanging on the wall—one-half
to give up, one-half to share—and vow to
stare down white supremacy—but PING PING 
shocked again and . . . where is  the ending?

Front Cover

A Milestone Poem for Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides

 Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 300

Posted at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads' 

Copyright © 2015  S.L.Chast


Mary said...

I do think many of us did think that we 'knew' how things were or had our heads 'under a barrel,' but we can't help but wake up with all that has been in the news & see to it that these things do not happen again....ever.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Where is the ending?

That is indeed the question.

Björn Rudberg said...

We white always think that giving away a little of our privileges would make us loose.. but in reality there should be nothing more important than to share... so much still ongoing...

my heart's love songs said...

i remember living in Texas as a child and seeing signs everywhere for "coloreds" ~ to enter a building, use a restroom, sit at the back of a bus. i was too young to know what all was really going on, but even then i couldn't understand why. i still don't.

a very moving, powerful write!

Grace said...

Never ending cycle of racism ~ I too wonder, where is the ending?

blueoran said...

Thanks Susan -- when you help us consider these things, it sure makes the notion of progress a myth -- a whitewashing of history. I remember a PBS documentary on the decline of public housing in St. Louis, how it all worsened so because whites systematically removed all economic privilege from the urban cores (St. Louis in the 70s experienced much what's happening in black Milwaukee with Scott Walker as governor of Wisconsin). The violence and oppression becomes a function of bureaucracy, as it has in Ferguson. Have we evolved at all, or only devolved in less apparent but more appalling ways?

Marian said...

Not sure exactly about your PING PING, which maybe is meant to evoke a series of lightbulb moments, but to me reads more like noise continually trying to obscure and distract the learner from thinking, realizing, putting things together. Like the pistols and sirens in Kurt Vonnegut's short story Harrison Bergeron.

Jim said...

Interesting, Susan. I too was naïve, having grown up in rural, horse riding to school, Nebraska. There were parts of Omaha that my parents never took me. My SIL is from Trinidad and he told me of his great-grandfather who came to Trinidad as a bond slave with a 20 year term. He was required to choose a last name (he picked an oriental one because it "sounded good") which remained for my SIL. There has been intermarriage between races (mostly true Spanish) so my grandson ends up with a light tan complexion and having my daughter's blue eyes.

I did look up your PING PING with a brief search. I was educated by the Urban Dictionary as it being a part of the female anatomy and by movie lingo as having Pingping being a Chinese man who was the worlds shortest man.

Susan said...

"Harrison Bergeron" it is!

Susan said...

I meant ping ping to sound like gun fire, one more being shot and ...
But your research is truly illuminating!