Strange Fruit, Blood on the Leaves: Continuing Lament

o-MARTIN-LUTHER-KING-HOODIE-facebookI have always despised the word closure. While I recognize that there are moments when the quest for closure is appropriate, the word itself has evolved into the kind of jargon that is dismissed as psychobabble as the populace concludes that each and every tragedy  can be cured/dismissed/completed if just as soon as the victims find closure. The demands for closure work well in our 24-hour-news-cycle world, as we seek to tie our reactions into a neat little emotional bow. Rend your garments if you must, just make sure your ready to appear buttoned down and ready to move on at the top of the hour. Gnashing of teeth will be tolerated but for a moment. Smile and tell us all about how you achieved closure so that we can dust ourselves off and be about our business.

We have forgotten the ancient art of lament. We have little time for the practices that express our outrage, give voice to our grief, or enact our horror; practices which move us beyond the mere words of closure; practices that in and of themselves provide a strange balm to sooth our grief. 

Today, I have no words with which to confront the horror of injustice, only my continued lament for the racism that infects the darkness of our existence. So, while the media broadcasts their ongoing quest for closure, my cries of lament are driven deeper into my soul by song. 

3 thoughts on “Strange Fruit, Blood on the Leaves: Continuing Lament

    • How can I keep from singing. Those beautiful words brought the tune immediately to my mind. Thank you.

  1. Dear Dawn,

    Thank you for this post and the words and music of “Strange Fruit” by Billy Holiday.

    I cannot tell you how numbed with anger I feel right now; it feels too horrible for words as I remember the many years of hateful discrimination right there in I was spat upon at the all white school I attended, the marches, the political tricks when we tried to get justice in our voting precinct for decent garbage pickup only to be duped by a white politician who came to speak to our little black community group when we complained about oh, so many wrongs in our community—how he only wanted re-election and never did a damn thing to improve our lot while the whites across the tracks (literally) got everything! The insanity of not being hired as an airline hostess when my friend and I had passed every test given only to be refused because our “legs were too skinny”. Other jobs, that passed the first interview stage with more liberal interviewers, only to be refused by the “boss” once she saw me face to face.the stories go on and on. The shootings and unlawful arrests by policemen of young innocent black boys in my area simply because they were in a white area shopping—good young men with promising futures who attended the same high school as me, so I know they were good guys.

    This Trayvon Martin case has brought back all those years of horror to me in nightmarish feelings of hatred for the U.S. And, their undisguised distain and hatred of Barack Obama just tops it off for me!! I’m struggling with my feelings right now.I know I will feel better soon and start looking for opportunities to help make it right.I don’t know how but, there’s got to be something that can be done!

    In a while, I expect to be able to better articulate my thoughts and feelings.I am grateful for you and for Holy Cross where I feel truly accepted for who I am. Would that that would be the case for every person of colour everywhere.I weep for Trayvon’s family. No matter his history or his story, he was unarmed, dammit! He was followed by a racist and profiled! I am trying to feel some kind of compassion for George as his life will be hell for a long time but, its hard.



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