no hyphen

September 27, 1994|By d.r. fair

don't divide me up like some pig carcass:

shanks, ribs, shoulder, pork butt.

when i saw it,

i almost lost my mind.

here i am finally whole;

and she puts a hyphen in me --

cuts me in half,

and the first half wasn't

even complete: afro.

spell it out baby: african!

give me the i can

i can reach across the ocean

and touch the hem of mama africa's skirt.

i can stand out on my fire escape,

point southeast --

point to africa and proclaim that my dust,

my mama's dust,

my grandmama's dust,

all my mamas' dust come from there;

from under that baobob tree.

but don't mistake me now.

i am american

i can say it belongs to me.

had my cocoa colored rump slapped at the pensacola naval hospital.

oh yeah!

my old man served uncle sam's navy for twenty five years --

engineer.

he's got bad feet now because of it.

so i've got my right to claim a chunk of this asphalt.

so give it all to me,

and take out that hyphen!

i know the name has changed every twenty years or so:

negro

colored,

black,

afro-americans,

black-americans,

african americans; but we had to practice --

figure out how we could stand on the ocean

-- steady;

stretch our arms out so we could get a strong

hold of the tree trunks on both shores.

and we saw the hyphen.

that was the white man's idea.

he tries to keep reminding us: we are separate;

we don't belong here,

". . .and you can have none!"

but the rules on the playground have changed --

are changing.

mama africa's stolen children

are demanding to be included in the game.

we are all coming out to stand on our fire escapes,

point southeast,

point to africa to proclaim, "that's where all our mamas' dust come from!"

we are standing steady,

sure footed,

like so many wonder womans

and supermans --

in the center of the sandbox: "this belongs to me too!"

so,

no hyphen!

we've decided,

we don't want to play that game no more.

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