Once upon a time, not long ago,
When White people wore pajamas and lynched Black lives slow,
There was a Black man who was the heavyweight champ,
Who punched in boxing gloves without an aide-de-camp.
Strange fruit was hanging from the trees in the South,
While he kept punching White people in the mouth.
He took the champ’s belt in 1908,
But it was the 1910 fight that was truly great.
An ex-champ, offended by this Black man’s cool,
Took back to fighting – to end his rule.
“I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a negro.”
And so they threatened and bribed the reigning king,
To pick up his gloves and get back into the ring.
…And he did.
…And they fought.
…And he won.
…And White people rioted and killed.
…And Black people celebrated.
…On the Fourth of July.
Jack Johnson was not perfect, that is certainly true,
but he won against White men, and fought Jim Crow too.
The struggle for freedom has never been easy,
And Black excellence has a way of making White people queasy.
So, some words of advice from this White/Puerto Rican,
to those who ‘just so happen’ to not hear when POC are speakin’:
Listen to those that take the lead.
As they do what they do – pay attention, take heed.
There are brilliant lights burning bright today,
You should know who they are; their names I won’t cé.
We need to get it together, get ourselves in formation.
We need to exorcise the racial demons of our nation.
Genocide of native people built this house we live in,
And Black blood and tears made the chairs we sit in.
Almost all of our money was never ours,
Except through murder and abuse of power.
But please understand: no one needs your anxiety.
Racism is a drug – we need White sobriety.
So let’s have some talks, but mostly let’s listen.
And give some of our pots to those without one to piss in.
And the next time you hear a Jack Johnson song:
Maybe take a little moment before you sing along.