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June 03, 2004

Poetic Blacks & Commie Rats

Now is one of those occasions that the corrective influence of blackfolks on particularly rabid elements needs to be heard. I heard somebody going 'round saying Langston Hughes was a commie rat and there ain't gonna be no crap like that. Although I don't see it as my life's mission to defend every African American from every smear any nut is liable to make, beating up on Langston Hughes is something I don't take very kindly.

Like most elementary school kids in my neighborhood, I was instructed to memorize poems by Langston Hughes. The Negro Speaks of Rivers was the first. And how many times after hearing the Negro National Anthem (felt in the days when hope, unborn had died), have we had our eyes well up at the sentiments of a Mother to her Son?

Well, son, I'll tell you: Life for me ain't been no crystal stair. It's had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor Bare. But all the time I'se been a-climbin' on, And reachin' landin's, And turnin' corners, And sometimes goin' in the dark Where there ain't been no light. So, boy, don't you turn back. Don't you set down on the steps. 'Cause you finds it's kinder hard. Don't you fall now For I'se still goin', honey, I'se still climbin', And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Pops was always a fan of Hughes' character Jesse B. Simple and although I was a bit young to understand the humor, I certainly understood the effect on my parents.

But life ain't no crystal stair, so it comes as no surprise, not that we should take it in stride, that in an effort to crush Kerry, folks feel nothing about spitting in the face of Hughes. Kerry has a hard enough time standing on his own two feet without such insults. And it is not without irony that the very basis upon which this sensational claim is made points to that sham witch hunt, the McCarthy Hearings. Do read the entire piece, you'll see that it makes my point precisely.

Of course Langston Hughes was not likely the kind of man who would be troubled by such commentary from certain Americans. After all, he went away to live in Mexico and found respect. He went away to live in France and found respect. And yes, he travelled to the Soviet Union too. But to suggest that his inspiration for criticism of America came from Marxist dogma is the profoundest ignorance.

And I suppose I would let that lying dog lie, but today I just cannot. That is partially because of something I learned of his influence on Thurgood Marshall as I wrote about him in these days of reflections on Brown. (Listen to Juan Williams' audio). Hughes was the man at Lincoln University who convinced Marshall to take politics and law seriously. But it's also because he's black like me.

Posted by mbowen at June 3, 2004 02:33 PM

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Don't throw that grenade just yet from Prometheus 6
Or at least shade it a bit further right so Cobb isn't fragged. Yet. Poetic Blacks & Commie Rats Now is one of those occasions that the corrective influence of blackfolks on particularly rabid elements needs to be heard. I... [Read More]

Tracked on June 4, 2004 03:48 AM


Off-topic Cobb, but I think you'd be interested in this. A fellow conservative (JD Mays, nice guy) alerted me this post on his blog. He blogged about the Conservative Brotherhood and offered his thoughts and wanted mine. I've added several comments, and you may want to contribute to the discussion:


Posted by: La Shawn Barber at June 3, 2004 06:38 PM