Tulsa / It's a start

by mike skliar

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1.
Tulsa 1921 03:33
Mr.Rowland, entered an elevator, in Tulsa in 1921 A young black man on his way to the bathroom, the segregated one He might have tripped, but some store clerk thought he was a threat The girl didn’t want to press charges, but Rowland’s fate was set Rowland was arrested, some feared a lynching that night So a group of Roland’s neighbors went to see everything’s all right Met by a larger white mob, before long the guns appeared Bullets were exchanged, just as some had feared The KKK had members all throughout the state Who couldn’t stand that the blacks had dared to stand up straight The white folks brought in airplanes, to do what damage they could The planes dropped bombs to level the whole black neighborhood After two days of assault, hundreds wounded or dead Thousands of black folks homeless, no houses, no beds All the exact numbers are lost to the mists of time No indictments, no convictions, no mention of the crime The history books were written, of Tulsa not a word Almost no way of knowing, just what had occurred Its only in the last few years, we’ve started to remember And you can still find statues of old Klan members a hundred years later, the president rallies his base On Juneteenth, the anniversary of slavery’s disgrace where does he pick, to hold it, Tulsa, Oklahoma what kind of strange fruit is this, what a horrible aroma So don’t you go telling me, racism is dead and gone The list of the names that we’re chanting go on and on and on How many other Tulsas happened that we don’t know The only thing that’s clear is that white supremacy has got to go (c) M. Skliar 2020
2.
It’s a start to say all the names out loud Softly by yourself or marching in a crowd Its a start to curse the heavens for sending storm clouds It’s a start, don’t let it end there it’s a start to realize there’s no help from above and sometimes nothing happens without a shove but nothing’s gonna work unless its done with love it’s a start, don’t let it end there Change the world and you’ll change too All together there’s nothing we can’t do Oh I want to believe that….Oh I need to believe that Its a start to try to list everything that’s wrong To pursue the path of justice, no matter how long To bring people together in a mighty song It’s a start, don’t let it end there it’s a start knowing when to push or pull to hold all of us accountable go up against odds that seem insurmountable it’s a start, don’t let it end there (c) M. Skliar 2020

about

This is a two song 'single' release (just like the old 45 rpm singles, one song per side) of two brand new songs written in this first two weeks of June 2020, when the protests, BLM, and the long-overdue subject of police brutality became the focus of so many people around the world.

As just about everyone reading this knows, the violent death of George Floyd at police hands over Memorial day weekend at the end of May, 2020, was a catalyst that galvanized millions to say 'enough' - enough with the violent police tactics, enough with the militarization of the police with expensive weapons of war arrayed against citizens, enough with anti-black prejudice and discrimination, enough with arresting blacks for the same crimes at many times the rates that whites are arrested for, enough killing of unarmed black men and boys, enough with no-knock warrants that led to Breonna Taylor's death, etc. etc.

Another catalyst that led to the writing of these two songs was the announcement by the president that on June 19th, he would hold the first in-person rally after Covid-19 stopped mass gatherings. (The date has just now been changed to June 20th, as of this writing, but the original date was the 19th).

The date of June 19th was most probably no accident-- it's "Juneteenth", the date Federal orders that slavery was abolished were finally read in public in Texas. June 19th has been celebrated as 'Freedom Day' ever since. The place of the president's rally was announced as Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of a huge massacre in 1921, when airplanes were used for the first time against US Citizens, and an entire black neighborhood was destroyed by white supremacist forces. This choice of date and location is most probably a huge 'dog whistle' to this president's white supremacist base, and is beyond despicable.

The song "Tulsa 1921" is an explanation of what happened at that time, putting it into some historical context with what's happening now. The song 'It's a start" is a call to action, hopefully the start of positive change.

Both "Tulsa" and "It's a start" were performed at the (now online every-Thursday) open mic conducted by the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe. A shout out to that wonderful venue, and the poets and artists that are a part, as well as the fantastic Thursday night online host, Caridad de La Luz ("labrujanyc" on various social media, etc).

The cover image was taken during one such online open mic, with the computer screen showing just a fraction of the participants.

credits

released June 13, 2020

Mike Skliar- guitar, vocals, harmonica

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mike skliar New York, New York

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