Thursday, September 10, 2009

brown @ 50 (6)

brown @ 50

consider the logic:

major term:
segregation in topeka
pervades life..

minor term:
black children live
segregated in topeka

segregated schools
prepare black children
for the segregation they’ll
face as adults.

thus the school board syllogized
while oliver brown catechized
his daughters linda & terri:

“this definitely is kansas, children!”

they tied us up...
& then,
in three years of litigation...
& then,
homer plessy’s train was a comin’
& then,
& then,
& then…


& then along came
thurgood marshall;
straight forward, plain-spoken
“equal means getting the same thing,
at the same time & in the same place”

thurgood marshall.

our jim dandy to the rescue;
irascible champion & protector,
who loosed the reins on his colored steed,
clamped the spurs to its legalistic sides,
& rode the naacp up the stairs
& into the chambers of the supreme court
leaving the lightning's flash behind;

straight at the justices he came;
came like a falling star.

made mr. justice earl warren duck,
jump down, turn around;
made him blink & rethink
the treachery of the fifth column,
the enemy within;
made him repent issei, nisei
& sansei internment.
made him bully, cajole
justices jackson, reed,
vinton & clarke
into unanimity;
driving underground
jackson’s law clerk rehnquist &
his defense of plessy as
“right & should be reaffirmed!”

holy toledo harry caray!
the supreme court pitched a shutout!
stepped on the mound of a new
moral high ground.
america won 9 to zip.

but buried in that mound,
whispered into a hole
in that ground
was william rehnquist’s secret.

before long a thick bed of reeds
sprang up on the mound, & as soon
as it had gained its growth,
began whispering a sorry tale;
has continued to do so,
from that day to this,
every time a breeze
passes over the place:

for fifty & one hundred years
when this court’s priority
was to safeguard for a minority
its rights --
be they businessmen, slaveholders,
or jehovah's witnesses –
did all of them await
the same abysmal fate.
one by one they all at best
were sloughed off,
& crept silently to rest.

& now with ailing rehnquist presiding
over this broken court
& thoughtful americans praying
for his health
(his replacement too fearful
to contemplate)
the song of those reeds
buried in that mound,
whispered into that hole
haunts like the tune u
can’t abide but can’t forget
& find yourself humming
inspite of yourself.

consider the logic:

major term:
segregation of children in public schools
solely on the basis of race,
even though the physical facilities &
other "tangible" factors may be equal,
deprive the children of the minority group
of equal educational opportunities

minor term:
america's schools in 2004
have reached levels of segregation
not seen since 1954


© Joseph McNair;2009

1 comment:

  1. there is nothing legal nor logical about racism