John Fountain: Spitting facts to fight fiction

SHARE John Fountain: Spitting facts to fight fiction

Maya Angelou | File photo

I tell you my truth and it tickles your ears, relieves you of guilt. Makes your consciences feel clear … Fills you with self-righteous indignation. Makes you point the finger. Not over there. But over here.

Compels you to cheer: “Preach, Brother Fountain … Tell your people the truth. They don’t need Jesse or Al. They need to listen to you.”

But then, I flip the coin — speak my whole mind. Say what it’s like to live in my black skin. Then you claim I’ve lost my mind.


You say you no longer “respect” me. Tell me: Take a hike. Write to me with condescending, paternalistic insults. Try and tell me what I “should” write.

Call me “conceited,” riding arrogantly on my “high horse.” Say I must not be who you thought I was … Not a good Negro who knows his place. But, of course.

I shake my head. Chuckle at how racism blinds. How after centuries, the most dangerous black man is still an educated one who dares to articulately speak his mind.

How Truth is still a mighty, double-edged sword. Rejected by ignorance when Truth offends the status quo. And dissonant chords sound absurd.

And yet, I play on. I beat my drum. Spitting facts to fight fiction. About the history that has brought my people to our current condition. The hard truths that can help us transition to a position of equality rather than brutality.

Even amid the reality that you still can’t handle the truth.

For to look Truth squarely in the eyes, you’d have no recourse but to realize: You had a hand in our demise. That in Truth, there is no room for lies.

And my truth — as has been said recently — is that in America there is an ongoing assault on the “black body.”

I will inevitably lose any battle to save this mortal body. Therefore, the more crucial endeavor is to seek to secure my soul.

My soul. Amid this avaricious unforgiving war that, without apology, scars my psyche, tears my black male body — leaving me a bloody pulp and mortally wearied.

But not my soul. Still yearning to be free. To taste freedom. Sweet freedom.

Freedom without dissimulation is the song I hear our ancestors cry. The ancestral prayers of DuBois’ “sons of night.”

Lingering in the melody of their soul serenade. Like rhapsodies of fire and desire through dimly lit nights of devastation by human creation. Made manifest as hate and racial degradation that seeks the confiscation of not just my body. My soul. The souls of black folk.

And yet, in the words of Maya Angelou: “Still I rise.” Even if it means, in the words of Paul Laurence Dunbar, that we must “wear the mask that grins and lies” to hide our cheeks and shade our eyes…

And still I rise.

And I declare, at least for now, in the words of Langston Hughes: “I’m still here!”

And yet, in time, I will lose this battle for my body, for this mortal shell. Even if I never live to escape this hell. But my soul is a weightier matter. The substance of my words, my prayers, thoughts, deeds and dreams — my soul. My soul will live hereafter.

Eternally in the social sediment of the earth, leaving an afterglow upon the universe. Of our ancestral hopes that we will someday break this racial curse, though this body be cast like dust in the wind. Our journey far from where we first began.

And this sin of black skin. Not a transgression to God. Only in a hate-filled land.

This is my whole truth.


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