Archive | 12:49 PM

We People Who Are Darker Than Blue

1 Mar

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I was up the other night waiting for sleep to capture me and carry me away. In my waiting I flipped through some channels on the tv and I landed where I always land, on PBS. It seems that I was supposed to be up and flipping through channels as I ran into a documentary called, “Movin’ On Up: Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions”. I was not to sleep for a bit longer and that was cool with me.

The documentary was the normal fare of “when he started, to how it all ended”, I was familiar with the M.O. and it was welcomed as I wouldn’t have to do to much thinking. I enjoyed listening to the music and some I had never heard and other I haven’t heard in a long time. The one that hit me like stone was “We People Who Are Darker Than Blue”, I can’t ever remember hearing this song and I listen to hours of music everyday. I was floored by the words in the song because it’s what I had been trying to say for at least 30 years. The memories came back to me like they happened yesterday. I felt the same feelings and saw the same people. I was that little Black boy again and I was abused for being that little Black boy, again. The tired, dried out streets of Washington, D.C. were vivid in my mind. The corner store where I bought all my Now & Laters, Lemonheads, Alexander the Grapes, Boston Baked Bean, half smoked sausages, pop-sickles and the rest of it. The little girls where jumping rope and chanting cheers like “on the list”. Anybody that grew up in D.C. in the 70’s know what I’m talking about. I was again with the neighborhood boys looking for trouble in the alleys, but finding nothing but crazy dogs that loved to chase us over fences or on top of cars. Mr. Johnson from across the street was in his yard with the hose watering his grass. Some soft music was coming from somewhere, out of someone’s house as it always was. There was ALWAYS music playing in my world which is also known as our block. The old lady up the street was sitting on her porch swing with that same pleasant, peaceful look on her face as her husband push a manual lawn mower. I loved watching him cut the grass, those strange looking turning blades cut right through the grass as they rotated so fast as he pushed. The young couple a few houses down were washing their car in cutoff jeans and tank tops. My mother had just come back from the corner store with red skin bologna and sliced cheese. Those sandwiches had magic or something spread on them because I have never had one as good since. OH!! an orange Rock Creek Park soda, another D.C. thing.

But back to the song and I’ll put the lyrics here. I had always felt like a lesser person because of my skin tone. Not something that was generated in me, but introduced at a very young age. My skin was to me something to be ashamed of and I was. I also grew to not like lighter skinned Black people, I think it may have been jealousy but my young mind had no concept of jealousy. Now understand; in my world only Black people existed. I bet I could go months and never see another race of people and if you watch the clip all the way through you’ll see exactly how my life was growing up . It was normal to me and that was D.C. back then.

I won’t drag this out because…..well, because I don’t want to. And I’ll stop now as to not get to deep. It’s really about the song and here are the lyrics and a clip from the documentary:

WE PEOPLE WHO ARE DARKER THAN BLUE 
ARE WE GONNA STAND AROUND THIS TOWN AND LET WHAT OTHERS SAY COME TRUE 
WE’RE- JUST GOOD FOR NOTHING THEY ALL FIGURE 
A BOYISH GROWN UP SHIFTLESS JIGGER 
NOW WE CAN’T HARDLY STAND FOR THAT 
OR IS THAT REALLY WHERE IT’S AT 
WE PEOPLE WHO ARE DARKER THAN BLUE 
THIS AIN’T NO TIME FOR SEGREGATING 
I’M TALKING `BOUT BROWN AND YELLOW TOO
HIGH YELLOW GAL CAN’T YOU TELL 
YOU’RE JUST THE SURFACE OF OUR DARK DEEP WELL 
IF YOUR MIND COULD REALLY SEE 
YOU’D KNOW YOUR COLOR SAME AS ME, 
PARDON ME BROTHER AS YOU STAND IN YOUR GLORY 
I KNOW YOU WON’T MIND IF I TELL THE WHOLE STORY 
GET YOURSELF TOGETHER, LEARN TO KNOW YOUR SIGN 
SHALL WE COMMIT OUR GENOCIDE BEFORE WE CHECK OUT OUR MIND 
I KNOW WE’VE ALL GOT PROBLEMS THAT’S WHY I’M HERE TO SAY 
KEEP PEACE WITH ME AND I WITH YOU 
LET ME LOVE IN MY OWN WAY 
NOW I KNOW WE HAVE GREAT RESPECT FOR THE SISTER, AND MOTHER 
IT’S EVEN BETTER YET 
BUT THERE’S THE JOKER IN THE STREET LOVING ONE BROTHER ANO KILLING THE OTHER 
WHEN THE TIME COMES AND WE ARE REALLY FREE 
THERE’LL BE NO BROTHERS LEFT YOU SEE 
WE PEOPLE WHO ARE DARKER THAN BLUE 
DON’T LET US HANG AROUND THIS TOWN 
AND LET WHAT OTHERS SAY COME TRUE 
WERE JUST GOOD FOR NOTHING THEY ALL FIGURE 
A BOYISH GROWN UP SHIFTLESS JIGGER 
NOW WE CAN’T HARDLY STAND FOR THAT 
OR IS THAT REALLY WHERE IT’S AT 
PARDON ME BROTHER, I KNOW WE’VE COME A LONG LONG WAY 
LET US STOP BEING SO SATISFIED

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