harlem sweeties. my favorite poem. recited by Mos Def.

I was listening to NPR today and they were talking about the modern day take on poetry and they asked the panelists what was their first exposure to poetry. That got me to thinking about my first exposure to poetry and my favorite poet and poem. My absolute favorite poem on earth is a poem called Harlem Sweeties by Langston Hughes, my favorite poet.  I like it because it was my first exposure to someone actually giving homage to all of the colors of the brown rainbow that black women come in. I recently found this version of the poem being performed by the rapper Mos Def. Enjoy!

#video

#National Poetry Monnth

#LangstonHughes

#marchthirtyonepoetry

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march thirty one: #30poems30days – poetry inspired by pop culture – sports and racism

photo from Google.com

photo from Google.com

I  originally wrote this poem in 2006 and revised it in 2014.  It’s to interesting how this topic of the intersection of sports and racism continues to be a problem in American society juxtaposed against the importance of sports in the lives of American youth and our need for recreational activities.  Sports and athletic events has also become somewhat of a status symbol, afforded only by those with money to pay for front row seats at stadiums or who’s corporations can buy season tickets for it’s employees, leaving the everyday citizen to watch it on TV or forcing at home viewers to go broke investing in a “viewing package” of all football/basketball/baseball all the time just to stay caught up with the Jones’.  This issue is out of hand and the recent alleged racist rant by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling only exacerbates the problem as well as opens a window into the true feelings and comfort level of many older white men in America who still own most of the land and commodities in our society.  So much to talk about, so little time….

 

A New Kind Of Strange Fruit     (2006, updated 2014)

instead of hanging from trees

we hang from

basketball hoops

and we sprint down a field

 

running and jumping

performing at tip top speed

 

all for a contract

that puts a price

on your back

 

our athletes

are treated

like servants

bouncing and throwing a ball

on a plantation

disguised as an institution

of higher education

 

trading our talents

for entertainment

and naming rights

on stadiums

alumni return to campus

to tailgate

and drink

and swap stories

about

their fortune 500 careers

and talk about

how fast that new boy

can run down the field

 

these so called students

are plucked from their hoods

promised big dreams

promised a life of

sex and groupies

only to be left with a life of

trying to maintain a scholarship

trying not to fall asleep in class

trying to prove

that they’re more than

a black buck

recruited

to fill a slot

on a team

that wins championships

only to encourage donors

to keep on digging

in their pockets

leaving players

wondering

why their coach

is treated like a king

and they are treated

like a commodity?

 

And then they get drafted

and traded

like stocks

 

traded and sold

to the highest bidder

to fill their pockets with some change

in order to fill their lives

with material goods

only to make their owners empires bigger

 

all at the expense of racial progress?

 

now tell me again

what is the difference

between sports

and the oppressive

capitalistic

institutionalized

system

we came to know as

slavery?

thank you for reading march thirty one poetry

follow me on twitter: @ivywriter

 

This poem was based on another prompt from poet Scott Woods on Twitter.  The prompt was “Geocaching in the hood”.  I used my own interpretation of that:

Poem:  GPS for the streets

never underestimate the homeless dude

sees all, hears all

and probably knows all the shortcuts

 

Thank you for reading march thirty one poetry

Follow me on Twitter: @ivywriter

march thirty one: #30poems30days #poetryprompt: finding direction in the hood

march thirty one: #NationalPoetryMonth #ThrowbackThursday #OldSchool – Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Since it’s Thursday (Throw Back Thursday that is), here is one of my favorite poets and one of my favorite pieces of spoken word. It’s Gil Scott Heron’s, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.  #OldSchool #TBT

We lost him in May 2011, one of the pioneers of modern spoken word and performance. RIP Gil Scott Heron

From You Tube

Thanks for reading March Thirty One poetry

Follow me on Twitter: @ivywriter