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OK. Very angry at the web2.0-Vstupid

So, there was this poem I saw when I was 16 that made me smile. I can't remember what it was exactly, but it went something like this (paraphrased from what I found online):

when I was born I was Black,
when I grew up I was Black,
when I'm sick I'm Black,
when I go in the sun I'm Black,
when I'm cold I'm Black
and when I die I will be Black.

When you're born you're Pink,
when you grow up you're White,
When you're sick you're Green,
When you're in the sun you're Red,
When you're cold you're Blue,
When you die you will be Purple.

And you call me colored?

But when I go looking for it on the Internet, everyone says it's a poem that was "voted the best poem in 2006" and "written by a black child from Africa in 2005".

As if "Africa" is a country. Even if the claim wasn't complete BS.

Because I know damn well it was written in the 60s by a black poet and human rights advocate. I was just trying to look up his name because my memory is... well, pretty bad.

For the record, I come from a Southern family of white folks. My grandmother called all African-descended folk "colored" even into the nineties, long after it had fallen out of disfavour. She was left-wing by Southern standards. A proper Democrat and crusader for equal rights regardless of race or gender. But, economics being what they are in the South, she didn't have a lot of interaction with African-Americans, so her lingo never got updated. Because she couldn't afford them. In other words, the only "normal" way there would be interaction between them would be if she was employing them as servants. I have never seen her in the same room with a person of colour. And she died in '99, I believe.

Which is what bothers me. Because she would have stood up for ANY woman's right to have equality in the workplace. Race never entered into it.

But a lot of people nowadays would have called her racist because she used the word "colored".

And I think that's sad. She was not a kind person, nor was she particularly industrious or stalwart in any other way. But she DID demand justice, and it's only fair to say so.

So I feel warmer towards my grandmother's use of the word "colored" than I do towards any non-race-non-gender-specific use of language that allows people to bury the name of this poet who wrote this very funny poem at a time when it wasn't such a joke: when people were being killed in the South for this sort of thing.

That is all.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 7th, 2013 05:10 pm (UTC)
Years ago, "colored" was the favored and more acceptable term. Those were the days when the NAACP was founded. In the 1960's the usage of "black" began, and many older people resisted that as it sounded pejorative.
Mar. 7th, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC)
Yes, my mother remembered when "black" was a total pejorative. Something that you'd never say to anybody who you'd respected. But times changed....
Mar. 7th, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
Don't think badly of your grandmother for using a term that she considered respectful, Things have almost come full circle with the term "person of color".
Mar. 7th, 2013 05:19 pm (UTC)
No worries. I don't think badly of her for this (she had other sins much more staining). It's the point of what I'm saying, really.
Mar. 7th, 2013 06:10 pm (UTC)
wakanomori is pretty good at ferreting out the actual locus classicus of things. I wonder if he could find your poem's actual origin.

Mar. 9th, 2013 10:16 am (UTC)
Not to bother him, I think. I just wanted to remember and to see if there were other poems by the same fellow.

it's more that I got peeved that the Internet makes it so easy for lazy "made up" stories to obliterate reality.
Mar. 9th, 2013 10:50 am (UTC)
Yeah: the Internet allows, for instance, disproven theories to linger and be rediscovered and spread, and if the crowd spreading those theories is louder than the crowd spreading the truth (heh, back to my entry--will respond to your comment momentarily), that's a problem. And then, more generally, the ratio of signal to noise on the Internet is pretty bad.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )