Strange Fruit is the Monument we need to guard against

The question on whether to remove monuments built to honor Confederate leaders is a distraction from the real issue that unfortunately lingers on. The real issue is those who feel that other citizens who look, act or worship differently do not have the same rights in our country. These white supremacists are perpetuating bigotry and hatred that ran amok during the Jim Crow era. Sadly, this Jim Crow-like   oppression has resurfaced in the eyes of too many.

The real monuments we need to remember and guard against are captured in the song “Strange Fruit*” powerfully and mournfully sung by Billie Holiday. The monuments that should scare us are young black bodies swaying in the wind hanging from trees. As Holiday sings, this “strange fruit” is a painful reminder of what bigotry and hatred can do.

“Southern trees bear 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.”

White supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK must be condemned for their bigotry and hatred. It is that simple. We should not have tolerated it then and we must not tolerate it now. And, since the President won’t condemn such behavior and his past and current words have emboldened these white supremacists, we Americans must take up that mantle and say this is not right.

* Written by Lewis Allan, Maurice Pearl, Dwayne P Wiggins

9 thoughts on “Strange Fruit is the Monument we need to guard against

  1. Dear Keith,

    You are so right. It is “we the people” who will be fighting against this scourge on America’s soul, the sin of racism. Being silent on this subject and/ or excusing it away are not viable options. Those who resort to either tactic are condoning the sin of racism but this time, they can’t hide in their false reality of denial.”We the people” will call them out.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, thanks. We also need our ministers and leaders to be outspoken against bigotry and hatred. If they are not, we need to do it for them. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: Three additional comments. Billie Holiday is the ideal person to sing this song. She stopped touring the South because of Jim Crow and sexual advances by her band mates. She has been on the receiving end of abuse from multiple sources.

    It troubles me the white supremacists feel little shame in showing their faces. It is not just the empowerment of the current President, but it is the emboldened behavior from like-minded hateful people on social media.

    Finally, I suggest the Antifa folks need to cool their jets. By acting with violence, the mission of protesters against bigotry and hatred is compromised. My strong recommendation is overwhelming civil protesters that outnumber the haters.

    I liken this to the religious sect that protested at all military funerals against the US position on gays in the military. They have a right, but have very poor taste in protesting at a funeral. The best protest against them was when hundred of people showed up to block the view of the family of these bigoted folks.

  3. Who suddenly declared this a “Christian Nation”? I thought this country embraced and tolerated all religions? For most of my lifetime, that is what I was taught, what I was told, what I believed. Who suddenly decided that pale skin is better, somehow? And who invited ol’ Jim Crow back into this nation? I thought we sent him packing decades ago? What have we become? We have become a society of judgmental people, people whose arrogance will not allow them to either see or hear the rest of us. People who believe that such superficial criteria as what church they attend, if any, what shade their skin may be, and what bathroom they use actually matters.

    Some days, especially of late, I am inclined to say to those who believe it is their right to judge … “Fine … you can have this damn country … I will go elsewhere, for there is nothing left here worth fighting for.” But then I take a breath, I read your posts, Hugh’s, or Gronda’s … and I realize that yes, there IS something worth fighting for. But we must fight with common sense, with compassion, humility and humanity, rather than with rocks, knives and guns. For to do otherwise is to lower ourselves, to become one of ‘them’, and I refuse to do that. How small must ‘they’ feel when confronted with logical arguments for which they have no answer, for they have only a rehearsed dialog. So I will adhere to the moral ‘high ground’ as Michelle Obama urged us, and yes, some days … many days … I will feel that I am losing the battle. But I will live companionably with my conscience.

    • Jill, this is an outstanding piece and thanks for the nice words. Please create a post out of this as it is worthy of a larger audience. It would surprise many that Thomas Jefferson and other leaders were Deists – who believe in higher being, but believe God wound up the clock and let’s us live it out.

      Regardless of labels, each major religion tells us to treat others like we want to be treated. Those are the words that matter most and are called the Golden Rule by a guy named Jesus. That is what we need to aspire to.

      Thanks my friend. Keith

      • Many thanks for your kind words, Keith! I actually thought, after I posted the comment and re-read it, that I might have gone a bit overboard, but I was in just that sort of mood at that moment. I may try to expand my thoughts into a full post … thanks for suggesting and encouraging me! It was an excellent post, by the way — I forgot to mention that! This is one topic that we cannot let fall by the wayside, for it is like a disease that, left untreated, will run rampant.

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