Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Special Feature: Selected Tanka about Racial Reckoning in Memory of George Floyd

                                                  written in response to the Derek Chauvin trial verdict 
                                                  for the killing of George Floyd and Joe Biden's remarks

                                                  for a moment
                                                  our country can breathe without fear ...
                                                  until somewhere
                                                  some young black man collides
                                                  with the shadow of a white cop

                                                  Chen-ou Liu

My Dear Friends:

Today marks the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death. I would like to share with you the following tanka about "racial reckoning:"

Emory President praised
the three-fifths compromise ...
on the sun-tanned backs
of a row of black students
This is 5/5 outrageous

Chen-ou Liu

FYI: "The 1787 three-fifths compromise allowed each slave to be counted as three-fifths of a person in determining how much Congressional power the Southern states would have."

explaining Jim Crow
to my freshman students
the gulf
between cries
of cicadas

Laurence Stacey 

it’s hard
to prove racism --
dark and intangible
accumulating inside me 

Kozue Uzawa

white supremacists
in muscle shirts
the snow
can’t come
soon enough

LeRoy Gorman 

inauguration day --
I cut big orange letters
RISE UP . . .
picturing myself at the rally
first time in a hijab

Susan Weaver

on her knees
beside her bleeding lover
a black woman
live streams the cop and the gun
 — King, shining in this Diamond

Linda Jeannette Ward

FYI: In honor of Diamond Reynolds, who live-streamed the aftermath of her boyfriend being fatally shot by a police officer.

already one year
since I can't breathe, mama ...
in my daydream
a black mother's sprinkler
sprays a rainbow over all kids

Chen-ou Liu

And Please join NeverEnding Story to expand the readership base for tanka by tweeting at least one tanka a day throughout the month of May. The hashtags for Tanka Poetry Month are #MayTanka and #NaTankaMo.

Help spread the word about this celebration via your poetry blogs, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts. And NeverEnding Story seeks tanka submissions

Happy Reading 


Added: written one day after the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death

passing the shadow
of the George Floyd mural wall
white cops on the beat

1 comment:

  1. George Floyd’s death may be the most consequential police killing to have occurred since smartphones gave us the ability to document the realities of police violence. ...

    To restrain him, the cops held him to the ground. Kueng placed his knees on Floyd’s torso, and Lane placed his knees on Floyd’s legs. Derek Chauvin, another officer who had arrived on the scene, dug his knee into Floyd’s neck.

    At this point, Floyd began foretelling his own death. “Y’all, I’m going to die in here,” he said. “I’m going to die, man.” He cried out that he couldn’t breathe. “Please, the knee in my neck . . . I’ll probably die this way.” As Floyd continued to plead for his life, Chauvin announced that he was under arrest. “All right, all right. Oh, my God,” Floyd said. Then, eerily, as if the deed had already been done, he said, “Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead.” He soon fell unconscious and was hustled into an ambulance and sent to the hospital. He died of cardiac arrest an hour later....

    In 2008, while working on a book about Martin Luther King, Jr., I was struck by what I came to call King’s “automortology”—the manner in which he seemed to prophesy his own death, at times even narrating it as if it had already happened. This rhetorical form dates back at least to the life of Jesus, who resisted Roman oppression, and knew that the state was mustering its forces against him....

    Automortology is Black obituary on the sly. It allows a person, living under a threat of violence, to acknowledge this sense of impending doom. And it allows the person, who has little control over the circumstances of the death, to exercise some control over the narrative that will attend her death. ...

    -- excerpted from Michael Eric Dyson's "The Prophecies of George Floyd," The New Yorker, Jan. 21, 2021, accessed at https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-prophecies-of-george-floyd?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=tny&utm_mailing=TNY_Daily_052521&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=5be9db533f92a40469e92edc&cndid=51546768&hasha=b6fbcab238309aef63379075adce9782&hashb=1ee27695b067159d7288741d30876a414c0c2fad&hashc=38d9167095484c50f32a8a066cf2ed7163e6572f888910f48e0bf5d4185cfc7a&esrc=register-page&mbid=CRMNYR012019&utm_term=TNY_Daily