금요일, 6월 14, 2024
HomeMeditationThe Race Koan | Lion’s Roar

The Race Koan | Lion’s Roar


Who wants the Negro? What does the Negro need? I grew up listening to a majority of these questions. I don’t recall my dad and mom shedding sleep over them; they have been busy putting meals on the desk in order that I might eat. 

Black intellectuals have all the time wrestled with the riddle of methods to survive in the USA. Consider W. E. B. Du Bois wrestling together with his double consciousness—American and Black. Then there was Malcolm X who discarded his slave title, and Carter G. Woodson who centered Black historical past. We will spend whole lifetimes questioning, how will we deal with not simply segregation and prejudice however heartbreak and the blues? How will we perceive what usually renders us invisible to others?

Altering narratives about race in our nation requires a brand new vocabulary. As a poet and a creative-nonfiction author, I take advantage of my creativeness and the fluidity of language to look at issues critically from totally different views. I usually use humor, which is usually a device to dismantle the established order and raise the veil of oppression. 

I interviewed novelist and Buddhist Charles Johnson virtually day by day for a complete yr. Our dialogue resulted in The Wit and Knowledge of Charles Johnson, a 672-page guide. Steadily throughout our e mail correspondence, Charles would change into upset with me for not being severe about philosophical issues or what I considered because the deep and heavy blues. 

I felt a need every now and then to be Eshu, the trickster discovered within the Yoruba faith, the one you would possibly discover close to the crossroads speaking with the guitar-playing singer Robert Johnson. I started to riff off of Charles Johnson’s Buddhist beliefs, together with writing humorous riddles about race in my emails. I name them “Race Koans.” 

A Race Koan is a commentary on a Black matter or idea designed or requested solely to ponder. There is no such thing as a reply, solely an encouragement to succeed in the next stage of racial consciousness. Name it a Black individual’s nirvana with out cultural or political chains.

Two of my Race Koans are within the anthology Of Poetry & Protest: From Emmett Until to Trayvon Martin, edited by Philip Cushway and Michael Warr. Race Koan #1 in my poem, “The ten Race Koans as introduced to Charles Johnson on the morning of July 13, 2008” asks a historic query:

Why is the cotton white what
And the arms black?

Race Koan #8 has some humor
and sarcasm:

When Du Bois known as Garvey
“a Negro with a hat,”
What was he carrying?

When enthusiastic about author June Jordan’s line “issues that I do at midnight,” which describes her poems and the way they attain out to the reader, I wrote Race Koan #5:

Is sitting at midnight
One of the best ways to have fun
Blackness?

The Race Koan condenses the Black expertise right down to a query that’s introduced with out the expectation of a solution. It’s not an afterthought fortune cookie; as a substitute, the Race Koan is language to go regular with. It may be used as an appetizer to at least one’s creativity. 

It will possibly additionally assist an individual navigate the trauma created by race relations. The Race Koan is a option to perceive the thorns that cling to race issues. You may hear and really feel the blues contained in them, a resilience that reminds every era that they have to grasp what author Amiri Baraka known as “the altering similar.”

The Race Koan helps with public thought, to maneuver us past logical reasoning and the acceptance of issues as they’re or look like. 

Black is gorgeous when it turns into Enlightenment.

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