Thursday, February 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, look at what Andy Warhol
Done to my Skin

My generation didn’t come from civil rights, we never marched a million
Martin Luther King was to Lincoln Memorial, what we were to Studio 54
Andy Warhol robbed us of our skin, most of us survived through graffiti
Painted these walls and subway cars with poetry, hip hop was our culture
Some of us fell by the way side, white washed by European intellectualism
In the books we read, we saw potential, cursing the roots of Nat Turner
A history we once were, enslaved, kept hidden from that wondrous light
Our conscience polluted in the world of art, thinking Picasso was a god
For he saw in the masks of Africa, what became Demoiselles D’Avignon
As prostitutes are women of the streets, mother figure is an African woman
Kingdom of discos, music playing, we danced a dance of sex and drugs
There were no police men with clubs beating down on our flesh, we sexed
In bathroom stalls, sniffed cocaine from finger nails, crashed birthday orgies
Where was our Selma, Where was Mississippi, New York, New York City
Punk suicides on the Bowery, mob lynchings late at night, who were we
Defined by decades, from clothes we wore, music that made us, we died
Overdoses, burning churches, serial killer, murdered children, we passed
Let the king be Basquiat, we followed him through the galleries of Soho
But there is only one Martin Luther whose freedom of speech we sing
Call up the artisans, black painters from Brooklyn to Harlem, let it be told
Beauty is in our native tongue, comes from within our bodies onto our skin
Brown colored mud, Burnt Sienna, I choose in painting mother and child,
What is this Neo Expressionism, I do not understand, a life made so white
Be it Titanium and Cadmium red, pink ballerinas in tutus, Manet or Monet
Where are my tribal dances, ones I did in Accra, there were my romances
Origin of the muse, school girls climbing staircases, how could I ever refuse
For these orange skinned women, I paint with yellow and rouge, I digress
From the essence of woman kind, braided dark skinned women walking
Marching for our soul’s salvation, a time when the word “colored” was in
A fight we fought so far from sin, but it was peace charging from within
Our hearts bound by glory, a walk of freedom, if for a time worlds apart
We sat at different counters, rained on different parades, it was a bright sun
Under which we prayed, black skin in white shirts, pale faces in white hoods
Basquiat was king, Warhol messiah, freedom was sound, gathered around
Night clubs and Danceterias, painted faces, pink pastel, what a nightmare
To be black in a transparent world, made invisible under a thousand bulbs

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