Wednesday, June 29, 2005

nigger-reecan blues by willie perdomo

A long time ago, I remember seeing a show on PBS which showed various short art films or otherwise avant-garde performances. And on one episode of this show, I caught a film of Willie Perdomo doing "Nigger-Reecan" blues. I think it blew my mind to find out that there was someone out there who could relate to race in anywhere near the same way that I could. It's kind of funny from a certain point of view. In terms of my personal life, I think the poem was very much an important catalyst for me riding an entire train of thought. But now when I look back to the original poem, it doesn't impress me the way it once did. At one time, I very much needed to hear it, but right now I'm at a different place.


Nigger-Reecan Blues
Willie Perdomo (for Piri Thomas)


Hey, Willie. What are you, man?
No, silly. You know what I mean: What are you?
I am you. You are me. We the same. Can't you feel our veins drinking the
same blood?
-But who said you was a Porta Reecan?
-Tu eres Puerto Riqueno, brother.
-Maybe Indian like Gandhi Indian.
-I thought you was a Black man.
-Is one of your parents white?
-You sure you ain't a mix of something like
-Portuguese and Chinese?
-Naaaahhh. . .You ain't no Porta Reecan.
-I keep telling you: The boy is a Black man with an accent.
If you look closely you will see that your spirits are standing right next to
our songs. You soy Boricua! You soy Africano! I ain't lyin'. Pero mi pelo es
kinky y kurly y mi skin no es negra pero it can pass. ..
-Hey, yo. I don't care what you say - you Black.
I ain't Black! Everytime I go downtown la madam blankeeta de madesson
avenue sees that I'm standing right next to her and she holds her purse just
a bit tighter. I can't even catch a taxi late at night and the newspapers say
that if I'm not in front of a gun, chances are that I'll be behind one. I wonder
why. . .
-Cuz you Black, nigger.
I ain't Black, man. I had a conversation with my professor. Went like this:
-Where are you from, Willie?
-I'm from Harlem.
-Ohh! Are you Black?
-No, but-
-Do you play much basketball?
Te lo estoy diciendo, brother. Ese hombre es un moreno!
Miralo!
Mira yo no soy moreno! I just come out of Jerry's Den and the
coconut
spray off my new shape-up sails around the corner, up to the Harlem
River and off to New Jersey. I'm lookin' slim and I'm lookin' trim
and when my homeboy Davi saw me, he said: "Como, Papo. Te
parece como
un moreno, brother. Word up, bro. You look like a stone black
kid."
-I told you - you was Black.
Damn! I ain't even Black and here I am sufferin' from the young
Black man's plight/the old whtie man's burden/and I ain't even
Black, man/a Black man/I am not/Boricua I am/ain't never really
was/Black/like me. . .

-Leave that boy alone. He got the Nigger-Reecan Blues
I'm a Spic!
I'm a Nigger!
Spic! Spic! No different than a Nigger!
Neglected, rejected, oppressed and depressed
From banana boats to tenements
Street gangs to regiments. . .
Spic! Spic! I ain't nooooo different than a Nigger.

5 comments:

Echoes of Rain said...

Katrina Politic and Racism

Dear God, Knower of Things Unseen,
should I patiently endure
what touches me in this path?
Do Thy loving waters
preserve me as I walk?
Am I set ablaze by Thy remembrance?
Or do the echoes of the flapping
wings of crows in the
boiling cauldrons of hate and color
hinder my heart from approaching
You in service?

The Preacher: Venez,venez ici!
Follow me to the preachers
house, down Baton Rouge
Road, still standing.
Aucun mon chéri, green
Kaki guns, point a nous,
military police, DEA, ATF, FEMA.

National Gaurd: Wait for orders, kill on sight,
no more looting tonight.

Government: Victims are stranded
immediate care nowhere,
food nor water to share,
but the King visited
three times.

National Gaurd: Don’t count the dead, leave
those that will not part high and dry.

Red Cross helper 1: Look, there, a hand waving.

Red Cross helper 2: A black hand waving after
ten nights has no plight.

Hermano: Anda, vamos, la tenemos que salvar.
No, hay que cocinar.

Baby: Mamae, S'il vous plaît tenez ma main,
Don’t let the river eat me. Mamae,
réveillez-vous, mamae.

The Prescher: Their choices have no voices.
Ears are deaf when eyes are closed,
when manna
is a plasma monitor we can eat.

Government: Anarchy, anarchy, men in white houses
raising their fist to speak.

The echoes of the flapping
wings of crows in the
boiling cauldrons of hate and color
hinder my heart from approaching
You in service!
Dear God, everyday
a new tragedy: hunger, terror, earthquakes,
infractions of human rights,
rights of children, rights of women,
everyones rights...

The Preacher: Come in, come in,
s'il vous plait.
You know here we’re all dead.

Hermano: What are we here for?
The Preacher: Mbutu Hermano, reign’s in
Bogalusa.
Jackson Quiche: Solutions we have plenty.

Lecko: Where are the colors of our souls?
Jackson Quiche: There be no colors here.


Mara Lara: No gender either.
Yusef: Only light.
Leko: So where is the fight?

Yusef: No fight,
just unity in sight.

Oh, they all raise their hands
to keep the night a-fright.

Hermano: Are we ready for that?
Jackson Quiche: We’ve always been ready
for that.

Mara Lara: Unity in diversity?
I’ll pack my bags.
I'll go down to Congo Square.


The Preacher: Wait!
Mara Lara: Wait for what, this must be done.

The Preacher: The poets say we rant.
Hermano: Rant not bad when indocumentados
go hungry out of fear of deportation,
the winds blow them back to starvation.

Yusef: Forget about the poets, hurry, run,
bring justice back.

Dear God,
to the river I walked,
my footsteps leaving traces of wisdom
contemplating faces ripe with joy.
It was then she appeared as a
dream in my dream,
sitting on an eagles' ahead
veiled in pink satin flags flopping
in the wind, singing
the song I was there to sing.
We were so close, practically one.
She showed me her wounded hands.
I showed her my wounded feet.
It was then I noticed she was blind.
Suddenly she flew like a lantern toward a pine tree.
As I crossed the Dead Sea I could see
birds nesting peacefully, penguins I thought
at first, but no, each one was of a different breed.
Their offspring’s statues
in an arabesque design,
their eyes barely touching the raised wings.
Warbling melodies of love they filled
the air with indigo mist.
She disappeared signaling
follow but I was already asleep.

It was then I saw the city
covered with gardens filled with
bright flowers. Their shapes were all different.
At a distance I could see a stairway
made of sandstone, and a dome covered in gold, eighteen terraces,
nine at each side. The domed temple revealed nine
doors, nine gates opened like an lotus flower placed carefully in water,
They greeted spirits dressed in wonder.
I too became a spirit..

Then I heard a voice pronounce three words:

Yusef: Your will is not your own.

Mara Lara: Lifeless hearts filled with worldly
desires can not approach.

Leko: Yearn not for that which is
not of my good pleasure.

Jackson Quiche: The reconstruction is finished...

what's the truth u'all
what's the fluff, u'all
where's the love, u'll?
You got to have the love to set it straight u’all
/ Black Eye Peas/ Where is the love?

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Gracias!

Jasmine Samira Cruz said...

I remember reading this is Puerto Rican Anthology...this poem has been my basis in life. Growing up, no one knew what to categorized me as. My mother, an Afro-Puerto Rican woman and my father being Moroccan, it made me very confused who I was. Its refreshing that others know about this poem.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

yes, the poem was similarly a milestone of sorts for me. also, given your background i hope that you stop and look at other entries on this site because in some sense it is ALL about the intersection of Black, Latino and Islamic issues so there should be other things you would find interesting. useful, supportive, positive, etc.

Actually, another poet you might be interested in is Victor Hernandez Cruz who is Puerto Rican/Nuyorican and talks about the African component of his heritage. But more recently (past couple of years) he went to Morrocco and met his partner there and he's produced a collection of poetry titled Maraca (which is a deliberate pun). I went to a presentation of his where he talked about (among other things) how the mix of Mediterranean, African and other cultures in the CAribbean is similar to what happens in Morocco. Kind of interesting.

Thanks for stopping by!

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