Strange fruit still swinging from the trees.
Red ichor dribbles laboriously through these blues, leaving black scorch marks in the shape of a brown heart to remind you a real human died violently here to swing in peace.
Sometimes when I speak to white people, I avoid looking them in the eye, not because I am afraid or because I deem myself inferior- but because I don’t want to have to answer the question. It’s a rather loud question pulsing relentlessly behind those wavy blue eyes, even if they never speak it. It’s the question they aren’t sure whether or not makes them racist, but are certain that if they had it answered, they could fix racism. In their defense, it is a very important question that deserves answering, but in my defense, it is unfair that I must defend them when I answer it.
“What is it like to be black?”
Look up at the tree over there. That gorgeous black man strung up like an Addam’s Family Christmas ornament. Smell the death on his lips, taste the hum of wind through limp hair once brightly animated. You, as a white person, see this and think how sad. Your question is “I wonder what happened here?”
Yet for me, it is very different.
I am at once berated by graphic recollections of ancestral memory, reminding me that the highest law of this land has always been the expendability of black life. This is not a new thing, or an aberration, or even a very old thing. I am bearing witness to Hollywood’s favorite rebooted sequel. We all know creativity in this country is pioneered by the black community and that the biggest struggle of Whiteness has been figuring out how to co-opt the art we extract from our pain faster than they can kill us with it. I see that black descendant of the gods, rippling like wind chimes and I recall that this is all according to plan.
I at once wonder if my city is as safe as I once perceived, or if I could be next. Or my mother, my siblings, my friends. I question if I have lived the life I truly desired to live or if I am too late. I wonder if I need to write one more thing; should it be a poem, a song, a play, a love letter in my own penmanship.
Then my feet drag to an unwilling pause, as Willie grips my heel with his undying clench. I remember that I am both victim and villain in this mixed up, violated land. Awareness blasts through me like a double tequila shot with no lime and clarity prevails in my psyche against my will.
I must consider the possibility that my brother did take his own life.
I must consider the indestructibility of the black smile; smiles that have concealed rape, hate, brutality, sickness, vengeance, government abuse, depression, hate, powerlessness, abandonment, and even death. Because to do any less will cost not only your life, but that of your family and loved ones. The indestructible black smile is our only means of alchemy from tip to spool of this mortal coil, yet I must consider that the weight of that chemical spell grew too terrible to bear, and he killed himself.
I confess, there are flashes of moments where I envy the Babylonian tower of Whiteness. For to be white means you need not consider anything at all, and your life will continue on just fine.
While I sit in my home, on my bed, wondering whether I am helping the movement or hurting it by not delving into each and every case of black life unfairly, albeit systemically and systematically, stolen by Whiteness. Knowing there are so many buried cases, my sanity would lay waste to itself should I dare exhume them all. Convicted by culpability’s solipsistic derivation of not giving my voice to these untold black stories, because they may be too much for me to bear. I inhabit this guilt like the graying balcony webs of a rundown apartment tottering over a forgotten movie theatre. In its youth, a spider’s web is invisible, only growing into range of sight as it fades into the waiting arms of time.
America, as it is widely known, is a thinly forged idea, an experiment still in its infantile stages of comprehending the very elements it is attempting to mix. But we are not an element for perusal and pleasure- we are a people. I am not an element for your poking, prodding, and expending- I am a man. Robert Fuller is a man, and not even death can take that honor away from him.
Yet I must consider that he took his own life.
But this too has certain, spiraling implications for such is the Russian doll matrix of the black experience in America. For if he did take his own life, all of white America will seize upon it as though it were some great victory. They will hold his black gold body high before all the world, alleviating themselves of all guilt as they proudly proclaim- “Look! He has done this to himself! The progressed black life is still a Negro after all.”
That is what they want.
They hate that we call ourselves Americans.
They need us to be Negroes.
They need us to be other.
There will be no conversation within Whiteness about what drove this man to such tragedy. There will be no investigation into the symbolism of the choice in execution. There will be one thing discussed and one thing only- leverage. Leverage is the cocaine of the white world- an altogether impressive feat, given that cocaine is the cocaine of the white world.
They will leverage this into justification for their police, and their gentrification, and their disenfranchisement. They will use this to leverage their altar full of sins, saying “See. The Negro is helpless. It is our sin which has saved him.”
So perhaps my brother did kill himself.
A profound tragedy.
Perhaps he was hung and murdered by the whites.
A tragedy, equally profound.
You want to know what it’s like being black?
Knowing hangings can still happen at any time. The letter of the law may declare that I am free, but the law of the land sobers me intimately. I walk upon desecrated soil, densely populated by all the trees that Whiteness enjoys most.
Today could be the day my death buds blossom and I become the strange fruit swinging from any one of them. Red ichor dribbles laboriously through these blues, leaving black scorch marks in the shape of a brown heart to remind you a real human died violently here to swing in peace.
When will this song stop having to be written.
When will this soulful dirge finally end.
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