Richard e Hill - a Writer's Journal

150th Anniversary: Where is Pennsylvania?

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150th Anniversary: Where is Pennsylvania?

April 12th 1861 marked the beginning of the oxymoron Civil War. Rhetorically, how can a War be civil?

There is disagreement among historians, inkhorns and the citizenry in general as to whether this conflict which killed more Americans than World Wars I and II combined was fought to “free the mainly Black slaves”.  I am still among those dissenting voices during this sesquicentennial of the War. Inarguably there has been monumental strides toward racial equality, but skin toned racial inequality is still pervasive as segregation lives and prejudices die in a slow smirking, wink and nod abyss.

Pennsylvania, the former colony/commonwealth that was among the original thirteen States was established to foster religious freedom and independence of thought. It became the fastest growing State as immigrants both newly arrived and previously ensconced inhabited in droves. Blacks were not ceded a “Pennsylvania” in the vast areas taken from the indigenous ---- as all English, French, and Spanish settlements were. The towns established by freed slaves mainly in the West after the Civil War transmogrified into holocaustic abattoirs. “Send them all back to Africa” ---- a concept that the great Emancipator himself supported never left the drawing board. The country of Liberia in Africa was created to accept the bestowed free and did garner a modicum of success. [(Liberia was founded and colonized by freed American slaves with the help of a private organization called the American Colonization Society in 1821-1822, on the premise that former American slaves would have greater freedom and equality there. Slaves freed from slave ships were also sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin.) (Marcus Garvey-esque Back to Africa Movements has also met with minimal impact.)]

The USA is admirably at the forefront in supporting democracy, eradicating social injustice, and promoting health and education reforms internationally. However Blacks in the USA are the shoemaker’s children still waiting for shoes and looking for Pennsylvania.

 


 


 
 
Poem du Jour
 
 

Black Lament

 

I knew what it meant to be Black when

I heard a man being called a boy and treated like a toy

Black parishioners kneeling and praying before White Jesus

Pedestrians dropping their gazes before pale uncaring faces

Signs that closed open doors

Hooded nightriders on the roads once more

Half awake sweating passengers standing

      in the back on a half-empty bus

Public schools with doorways where ax-handled Governors stood

Wealth, not what you had --- but what you never could

Smiling protesters hugging trees, saving seals and whales

Angry policemen busting heads and taking Brothers to jails

Soldiers without freedom fighting for peace

Tomorrow’s promises just beyond today’s reach

 

And realized there was no justice ---it was just ‘us’ . . . .

 

 

Richard e Hill San Diego June 2003

 

 

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