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Collective Awareness

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2005 9:15 am    Post subject: Collective Awareness Reply with quote

Warm greetings to this concerned and responsive community.

I was moved yesterday to revisit Without Sanctuary and didn't get to it. I wrote a poem a couple months ago, and had mused that some of the images from WS, would compliment it. This evening I was reviewing the poem and was reminded to go to the site.

The last time I visited Without Sanctuary, it was with a predominantly African American 8th grade class who had no idea what a lynching was. At that time, there was no flash movie option. Viewing the movie and listening to the narrative, I was struck moreover by Mr. Allen's reference to the card images as "family photos". Comparing his personal reflections and descriptions with the language of my poem, revealed a sameness in the two I found profound.

It was the sameness that prompted me to share the poem and other bits of myself in this forum. That sameness drew my attention to a collective awareness we have as members of this culture, regardless of our assigned "racial" identities.

I am a black woman, who once was a little black child listening to stories of racially motivated brutality and intimidation being exchanged by the adults. The realization that my earliest impressions of fear, powerlessness, and dread were seeded in these sessions of listening to "grown folk talk", was the inspiration for the poem Morbid I (i.e "pt.1").

The realization that : nightmarish images of being cornered and torchered, maimed and disfigured by whites have replayed in my spirit all my life and haunt me still; and, that this same phenomena is occuring in the minds of black Americans in general; and, that this trauma is an "inheritance" that strongly influences our public and personal choices--was the inspiration. The fact that we live in a culture in which the greater part of images and words are devoted to relaying gore, violation and pathology--was the inspiration.

The poem does contain a direct reference to the WS collection. And in this is an irony. One would think that the provocative work would in itself be the inspiration for Morbid I. But instead, viewing the collection years ago was such a powerful landmark in my internal journey through these fears, that it surfaced in my very personal language about those fears. My appreciation for Mr Allen's work is perhaps beyond words.

Morbid I

You frighten me.
Populate my mindscape w/
ghouls on the horizon
destined to

The way you
revive and celebrate
your atrocities
again and again,

Designs to exterminate
My Redemptive &

You insinuate
into my genetic memory--
celluloid frames of mind--

And leave me cowering there.

You mar my family photos
With ruddy,

My torcher
in Sepia tone

Fear hangs boldó
A castrated
burnt & deformed

On the mantle of
My [racial epithet deleted] mentality.

@T.Thomas 2005
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