Freedom – A Haiku

To have the freedom

To not think of injustice

Sunset privilege

The colors of sunset after a beautiful summer-like day….

This haiku was written for Patrick’s Pic and Word Challenge #236 – Freedom. My head has been pretty preoccupied with all the protests that have been occurring, as well as the usual pandemic news briefings. It’s disconcerting to me in many ways, so I have been trying hard to find the places that I can control and feel effective in what I do. This has been challenging.

The last line of my haiku comes from the history of towns, here in the USA, that prohibited blacks from being in the town after sunset. Of course, this prevented blacks from living in these towns. These towns were called “sundown towns” and are not widely known since this racist policy doesn’t appear in history books, although, I’m sure the black folks who lived near these areas were aware for safety reasons. These towns stayed “all white on purpose” and, until around the 1970s, some had signs saying so. Violence was another way that white residents made clear that blacks and other people of color were not allowed in the area. This PDF from author, James Loewen (who wrote the first and only book about sundown towns in the USA), introduces the history of this phenomenon which still exists to this day.

Besides redlining, sundown towns are another “hidden” aspect of the systemic nature of racism here in the USA. These practices were not written in history books but people – whites and blacks – knew about them. Because they weren’t documented, there was no way for blacks to prove they were being discriminated against. And if they tried to prove it or if they did not follow these written rules, there would be a violent reaction.

This is how racism works for people of color – stay silent or be a target. For white people, racism’s message is – stay silent and enjoy the benefits or you’ll be a target as well.

This is why we need to be raise our voices and our actions to be ANTI-Racist. Being passively against racism is how racism exists. This passivity includes saying the right words, even believing in equality, but not doing anything about it.

I live in a white neighborhood – there is only one other Asian family that lives in our whole entire neighborhood. On our cul-de-sac with six families, I know there are three families that support the current president who has shown support for racist attitudes. I bought the sign below:

Will freedom of speech be extended to us? We’ll see when the sun goes down….

©️ 2020 iido

27 thoughts on “Freedom – A Haiku

  1. powerful post thanks Irma … never heard of sundown towns but have no doubt they existed.

    Those who don’t rail against injustice must be very hard hearted ignorant people …

    Absolutely LOVE your sign … is it out front? Residing near supporters of a psychopath … not the neighbourhood I would choose … but guess you are safe there! They’ll have their rifles nearby …

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for another great post, Irma. I’m not sure how I’d handle having nearly half my neighbors be Trump supporters. I never stopped to think about that before, even though it obviously has to be the case. There is so much history in all colonized countries that needs to be told, as opposed to the Eurocentric white-washing and glorification we received. There are some revealing yet horrifying books available, like Greg Grandin’s The End of the Myth. Love the sign. Is it available online?

    Like

    • I will have to check out that book! I’ve actually been looking at history books for my kids that give different viewpoints other than from the colonizers. There is so much of history, especially in the USA, that is not taught. I got the sign from my friend but she bought it from Etsy. There are lots of designs to choose from!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Grandin’s book is definitely not for kids, but it will make you sit up and take notice, and also make you sad and mad. I grew up there, and as I read that book earlier this year I wondered what in heaven’s name I would have done if I’d read it while I was still an American living in America. Canada has been the same about teaching in their case the British version of history in the English schools, probably the French version in the French schools. Never the indigenous history or what they all did to each other, although this really is starting to change. I’m thinking of writing more about those things myself.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Powerful post Irma my dear, thank you for sharing this piece of history that I’m just learning about here. It sadens my heart that so many are facing such violent acts and prejudice. These things shouldn’t happen for any reason. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for explaining exactly what you meant by “Sunset privilege”.

    First, because I’d never heard of this particular practice, though I’ve known about many other means by which neighbourhoods and towns kept themselves segregated.

    Second, because when I first read your poem I took that line to mean that “privilege was in its final moments” as in, the sun is setting on privilege. I nearly commented, “Oh, God, I hope so!”

    That would have been disastrous! lol

    As much as I’d love that to be true, I think it’s unreasonably optimistic — tragically so — to think we’ll be leveling the privilege playing field anytime soon. It’s an ongoing struggle to identify the ongoing presence of privilege in my own life, a presence which often flavours my thoughts and actions. I have little hope in completely eliminating this presence from influencing my own thoughts and behaviour. Still, I like to think of myself as at least aware of my privilege as the next old white educated male raised in a middle class family in a “good neighbourhood” in one of the most prosperous nations in history. There is so much defiant ignorance being made so visible in these turbulent times, it leaves me unsettled.

    Fortunately, there is also some glimmer of possibility that more people are beginning to get it. Oh, God, I hope so!

    Thank you for this, Irma. Well and potently said, both in the poem and your commentary following it.

    ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • I, too, would like to see the sun go down on privilege, but that’s not going to happen any time soon (especially as long as people prefer capital over compassion). I think we are all privileged in some way – whether it is through our own merits or as a by-product of birth. For example, I being able-bodied gives me privilege and access that someone born with a disability won’t have. It’s really what I do with that privilege that matters – do I take the handicapped spot because I’m just going in really quick at the store? Or do I advocate and donate money for ramps to be built in buildings that are not ADA accessible?

      Your white, middle class, educated male privilege can be used for good – which is what you are already doing! I think other people are trying to do the same. This is an ultra-marathon though, not a sprint…happy to help educate and support. ❤️

      Like

  5. that last line from your haiku evoked so many feelings . then I read your explanation about the sundown towns – wow! even a sunset had a price – my heart like yours is burdened and am finding ways to express my confusion, hurt and sadness thru reading an supporting in my own small ways – this haiku is powerful – Irma thank you for the person and heart you are in this world and community

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your words make me blush! Reading your works and that of other fantastic writers in this community make my writing better. And as the saying goes: ones you know better, you do better. We each need to find our own way to express our experience with what is happening. Every step taken is a step forward. Hugs to you, dear friend!

      Like

  6. While I have never been in an explicit sundown town, I have read a little about them.  Not (sad to say) in my high school’s US history textbook.  Thanks for the pointer to Loewen’s detailed study of them.

    Knowing about sundown towns adds a layer of meaning to your haiku and image combination, which also works fine all by itself.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s