Somewhere in this Global Garden by Tomeka Reid



A Chicago based composer, improvisor and professor, Tomeka's piece for unaccompanied voice to the poetry of Ugochi Nwaogwugwu speaks directly to the Black American experience of racism.

Music by: Tomeka Reid

Text by: Ugochi Nwaogwugwu

Mezzo-Soprano: Alicia Hall Moran

 

Text:

For the Dearly Departed

When has melanin skin ever been safe

to go outside

in America?

Corona virus will have to get in line

We already dying at home

Botham Jean, 26

as we lay Breonna Taylor, 26

In church as we pray Charleston church shootings,

Clementa C. Pinckney, 41

Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, 54

Susie Jackson, 87

Ethel Lee Lance, 70

Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49

Tywanza Sanders, 26

Daniel L. Simmons, 74

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45

Myra Thompson, 59

 

16th Street Baptist Church bombings in Birmingham

Addie Mae Collins, 14

Denise McNair, 11

Carole Robertson, 14

Cynthia Wesley, 14.

 

In streets as we walk, or jog alone

Ahmoud Arbery, 25

Or with friends Rekia Boyd, 22

Selling loose squares Eric Garner, 43

Going to the corner store Trayvon Martin, 17

Behind a car like a dog George Floyd, 46

playing an innocent game of cops

and robbers on the lawn

with toy gun Tamir Rice, 12

or driving while sassy black Sandra Bland, 28

shots fired in the back Walter Scott, 50

Rayshard Brooks, 27

Jacob Blake, 29

because somewhere in this global garden

a rancid seed of thought

is bearing poisoned fruit

 

Black is not

placid people positioned

to die like pawns

in this planetary projection

looking for peace on planet earth

on foreign turf even if it is your birthplace

birthright

Already reduced to less than

skunk in worldview

Society reeks of our funk,

blues

 

Covid-19 is on beat, keeping time

with Ol' Jim Crow. I want to know

who will be next casualty

of this unseen enemy?

I am certain their race will mirror me

my sister,

cousin, uncle, father, aunty, mother,

brother, lover

 

What was their pre- existing condition?

Being black in America

Subliminal sundown towns still abound

We are reluctant soldiers

secretly recruited

in this domestic war to strike powers

that be righteous and wise from behind

curtain of homeland security guise

 

Strategically

placing indigenous lives

on grim reaper assembly line

As if they don’t matter

until none of us are left

 

Sacrificing self

for a country force-feeding

frankenfood flavored lies

silencing screams

feasting on forgotten flesh

until belly full of dark meat.



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This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at cac.ca.gov
Supported in part by a grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach.
Long Beach Opera events are supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission