Monday, July 06, 2009

What came first:

human beings or human rights?

And a very good morning to you, too. Were you there yesterday, in the pretty Dutch town of Middelburg in Zeeland, to commemorate the abolishment of slavery (1st July 1863)? While listening to all the stories and watching all the visible reminders of this past, another story came to mind, the story told in a poem by Kenneth Patchen (1911 – 1972).

‘Nice Day for a Lynching’

The bloodhounds look like sad old judges
In a strange court. They point their noses
At the Negro jerking in the tight noose;
His feet spread crow-like above these
Honorable men who laugh as he chokes.

I don’t know this black man.
I don’t know these white men.

But I know that one of my hands
Is black, and one white. I know that
One part of me is being strangled,
While another part horribly laughs.

Until it changes,
I shall be forever killing; and be killed.

Photo credit: NAACP announcement that a man was lynched yesterday