Friday Music Prompt #51: They Don’t Care About Us by Michael Jackson

image source: Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit, YouTube

 

Created for Friday Music Prompt #51 : They Don’t Care About Us, by Michael Jackson.

With each fresh red blood stain, and each white chalk outline of the body, she heard Billie Holiday singing “Strange Fruit.” She sighed, “Bullets for ropes; cops for the Klan.” But, as she argued in seminar, shooting the cops only built the bonfire higher.

“Yeah, everyone might come down to see the fire, but it’s nature is as derisive as it is unifying.”  With phones and tablets sync’d, the group watched a YouTube video with very graphic images of lynchings behind Billie’s singing.

“Between 1882 and 1968, Tuskegee Institute estimates at least around 3,500 black men were lynched,” she continued. “But here’s an irony: “Strange Fruit” was a poem, “Bitter Fruit,” written in 1937 by a white song writer and school teacher, Abel Meeropol (pseudonym Lewis Allan), protesting the hatred fostered by American racism; hatred enough to lynch. He, his wife Anne, and black singer, Laura Duncan, performed the song around New York City.”

She concluded: “No one colour owns hatred, it is in all of us; no one race owns genocide, it can happen anytime, anywhere; no one people hold power unless we let it happen. Put down the guns, put down the hate, put down the rabid dogs of war.”

Information from Wikipedia.

Two versions of Strange Fruit: 1st is Billie Holiday, who began to sing and record the song in 1939. Warning there are graphic images of lynching in the video and contained in the lyrics. Next is by Josh White who adds his own vision to the song. If you are unfamiliar with “Strange Fruit,” you will no doubt be haunted.

 

 

(Bitter) Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Abel Meeropol (Lewis Allan) 1937

“Meeropol cited this photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, August 7, 1930, as inspiring his poem.” Wikipedia

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29 thoughts on “Friday Music Prompt #51: They Don’t Care About Us by Michael Jackson

  1. Excellent response to this prompt…I agree no one owns hatred, its within each of us….another human failing……I remember the first time I heard the ‘Strange Fruit” song and being horrified by the whole notion of the actions of lynching being equated with fruit…but it makes it all the more memorable doesn’t it in teaching the lessons of the evils of racism….

    Like

  2. “No one colour owns hatred, it is in all of us; no one race owns genocide, it can happen anytime, anywhere; no one people hold power unless we let it happen. Put down the guns, put down the hate, put down the rabid dogs of war.”

    This is absolutely priceless.. such a touching message in your poem. Thank you so much for participating at MLMM :)

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

    Like

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