Enslaved

Enslaved
Elma Stuckey (1907-1988)
 
His only slave freed and gone, 
Red necked cracker all alone, 
No crop to plant, no crop to reap, 
All his troubles piled so steep.
 
Barefoot, ragged, hurting, sick, 
Just a meat skin now to lick.
Stomach empty, tightened belt,
Hunger’s for niggers, so he felt.
 
“Boy”, he said, “You damn’ old black,
Out of my sight and don’t come back.
Don’t want your food, out of might sight!
I’m clinging to this–I’m white, I’m white!”
 

Race remains a fixture in American society because of the power that it gives us and “them.”  Stuckey succinctly highlights for us that the power of a racialized identity, in this case whiteness, is more important than employment, companionship, food, clothing and health.  All of these can be lost but if we have the right socially colored skin then all is not lost.  Because race and likewise, racism are the means by which we gain these things.  It is a currency, a medium of exchange.

If we are socially colored white, we can be poor and yet, we are in some ways rich and able to possess all things.  Unemployed but if socially colored white, we always find ourselves in the right place at the right time.  We can be alone but if we are socially colored white, we have the opportunity to “meet the right people.”  And dying ‘white’ is the best way to go.  So goes the story of whiteness.

Stuckey’s poem reveals that for all of our time on God’s earth, we have yet to find a way to liberate ourselves from ourselves.  We remain enslaved.

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