Sunday, December 18, 2005

For Josephine and Other Queens

Ean Wood: The Josephine Baker Story
© 18 December 2005, The Griot Poet

Josephine Carson Baker was just dancing…
From dancing in the streets to
Prancing in bananas
From the ghetto of East St. Louis to the Ziegfeld Follies
Probably more sensual and revealing than the smut that masks as art
Presented on 24-hour soft-porn cable TV
Or music videos that celebrate our sisters’ posteriors,
She was also a civil rights pioneer, adopting 10 more of the earth’s dear children than Angelina Jolie, her “rainbow tribe”
Yet, I never heard anyone except racists in this new world or the last in English or French
Describe her as a bitch...

Dorothy Dandridge was a star before her time,
Carmen, Porgy and Bess
Got an Oscar nod
When the best job a black person could get was janitor in the theater coming in from the back...

Lena Horne
Was my forlorn father’s pin-up gal in the Navy,
And, even though it’s crazy,
There’s a picture on the Internet of Lena signing autographs among
Naval men of color…
The guy on the far right looks like my father’s twin brother (he didn’t have one)...

Perhaps I am amiss,
But I lament the days of
Old when we treated our women like gold
And would slap on a beat down if anyone of any stripe tried to call them out of their names...

Before video
Ruined music and created visual universes that are programmed by directors penetrating the hymen of our minds...

I remember the time when they were our queens
And how some of them – gone or still alive
Must feel when they see their beautiful daughters
Bump and grind
On a video
For a nickel bag pretend GANGSTA who hasn’t spent ten minutes in the ghetto, and
Whose first reference to them is “bitch” followed by “ho”?

I remember
Before Carter G. Woodson’s “Miss Education of the Negro”
Became the flipped script for MTV rap videos
And we in “Step-and-Fetch” followed this jest in our best-burnt cork face
To its Viacom clone: Bankrupt Entertainment Television
Until hip-hop like opera before it
Went from the streets to the board rooms of American aristocracy and became “hip-POP”
So that Gwen Stephanie can make hits on rhymes that make NO sense!

Skeeting our seed with Little John “to the window; to the wall!”
And pimping all our future mothers like those
Whom we pay for the oldest profession in the world...

I remember
When Josephine, Dorothy, Lena, Dianne Carroll, Lola Falana, Rosa Parks, Corretta Scott King, Betty Shabazz, Lieutenant Uhura (whose name means “freedom”), Ida B. Wells, Sister Soul Ja, your own MOTHER

When we treated our women like precious queens!

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