Southern Chattels and the Birth of the Cotton Fields…#320

Alabama 1850 – Elizabeth Ann Johnson-Murphree

Southern Chattels and Birth of the Cotton Fields…

Upon the waves of a tranquil sapphire ocean sails

a vessel from hell, the purity of white foam

bellowing in the warm wind gave no warning of

what lay within its dark belly.

Fear of the unknown soon turned into panic for

the confine souls taken from where God intended

them to be.  Their freedom imprison by rustic chains. 

Their blood spilled on the land they once loved.

Greed and ignorance of unyielding traders brought

pain and profit from the gentle forest, spring waters,

and warm earth.  Marched for days without food or

water, not knowing their fate.  Different tongues

melded among the scared, the innocent.

Swathed in tar pitch to cover the gnashed bodies. 

Clothing to cover their purity, only to be handled

like the beast of burdens they would soon become.

Sold at the auction block to the highest bidder,

speaking words that they did not understand. 

Marched in chains to the land of their buyers.

High upon his noble steed the taskmasters whip

reached its mark while the plow buried itself deep

within the rich red southern soil.  Without food,

water, or rest, toiling from daylight to dark to bring

in the “Masters” crops.

Living in conditions worse than the animals of the

fields, cold, unbound, with no place to run.  The

lands of their ancestors lay unknown in a place that

would soon be forgotten.  What was all of it for,

the Gods, no!

The sun and rain nourishes without judgment, both

the just, and the unjust, the vessel from hell has since

vanished; blood and sweat planted a seed in earth’s

womb and she gives birth to the white man’s gold called

“cotton”.

Copyright©2021.elizabethannjohnsonmurphree

AUTHORS NOTE:  I wrote this poem over the past several weeks.  Politics, rallies and violence from the white people has covered a once proud nation.  Somewhere along the way during this political time we have lost sight of other drastic problems in our nation.  The BLM movement.  Have we learned nothing as a nation?  The trials of the Black people did not end with the Civil War and the freedom they was given.  There was no justice then and there is no justice now.  These proud people were taken against their will, dropped into misery by the white southern land owners.  They were not allowed to read or write they had to live as “slaves”.  This was a problem when the War ended slavery, many land owners cruelly tossed the black people off their land.  They did not know what to do, no education, no jobs, no homes.  When the white man saw them seemingly without purpose walking up and down roads, it was not that they were lost; no, they were looking for family that had been taken from them.  With the presidential election over, with a pandemic possibly under control, let’s not forget that “BLACK LIVES STILL MATTER”.  Let’s not forget the “whiteness” of our skin and the privilege that comes with it.  We must always remember, lest we forget the horrors of the past.  We are all responsible, we all need to focus on the moment and do what we can to make the lives of a great people better.

8 thoughts on “Southern Chattels and the Birth of the Cotton Fields…#320

    1. The past is ever present in my mind. Raised until the age of three by an aunt, as my own mother did not want me. Returned to a poor rural setting in the South and raised by my great grandmother a Chickasaw, and a Black lady until twelve. I lived with then a raist mother and my father was Native American, I cannot explain how they got together? I have fought some form of racisim all my life. I do not long for the old times, but I do not think that I will ever live to see racisim abolished. We, Ameicans are good at hiding our racist thoughts, and denie the whiteness of our skin. Thanks for your comment it is greatly appreciated, visit often. E.

      Liked by 1 person

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