By Jonas T. Cottingham
A poem written as a nod to Abel Meeropole’s “The Strange Fruit.” Meeropole’s poem is both a critical social commentary and protest to the inhumanity and injustice relating to Blacks in America. In the 1930s, upon seeing a photograph of a lynching, Meeropole was inspired to write “The Strange Fruit” and set it to music. The song was given to Billie Holiday to perform and was also later popularized by Nina Simone. Today, I mirror the sentiments of Meeropole after he saw the gruesome imagery that is lynching. The racial climate of America, as it ever has been, is one that haunts Black and Brown boys and girls, women and men. The injustice makes you feel like an animal versus a human; it makes you feel hunted and afraid for what may be your fate. I am free. I am educated. I am self-determined. Yet, I am afraid because despite the value I see in my life–in this beautiful black skin–I know that every day is a fight to prove this as an American. Such a strange fruit. Hear my frustration below:
American soil tells of a horrid tale.
Ultimate free labor and the easiest of kill.
Black brother walking in the dead of night.
Better get home, son; better find some light.
Land of the free, home of the brave.
Son of the guilty and daughter of the slave.
Liberty and happiness for all men to hold.
All without a black, tarnished soul.
Here is a man for the Blues to fuck.
For the creek to wash, for the grave to tuck.
Just another crime, Black’s not worth a dime.
Here is another sign of the times.