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Dear Black Woman, why does this strange wind blow so cold?

Florence G. Hagler, John Fountain's grandmother, was among beloved black women he credits for nurturing him in "strong arms." / Photo supplied by John Fountain

Dear Black Woman, didn’t “we” once reign together? Weren’t we enslaved together? Didn’t we pray together? Long to stay together forever? Didn’t you tend to my wounds beneath the effervescent plantation moon?

Was it not your skin, like purplish-black, soothing midnight skies that each slavery morning kissed my bewildered eyes, warmed by your golden thighs? Did not we soothe each other’s salty tears and cries?


Wasn’t it the sight of you that made my burdens easier to bear under the brutal noonday sun. That made my heartbeat as Black Man run faster.

…And when Massa took you to his bed against our will, weren’t we indivisible still?

Inseparably one. Whole. In spirit and in soul?

So why does this strange wind now blow so cold?

And what created this glaring hole between us? Between you and me. Between the souls of the black man that I am and that black woman you be.

Between our sacred intimate history. Of praying together. Of fighting together. Of enduring whatever betide. For the glory and unparalleled joy of being by each other’s side.

For the intoxicating scent of black love. For the splendor of two rapturously bound together like hand in glove.

So what would make you now disparage me? Dismiss me, openly dis me in the Public Square, where black male corpses are still hung by the Cruel One as sport and public fair.

Will you too join the inconspicuous chorus that seeks to lynch me? Who hate me. Who abhor me. You, who once adored us like we still adore you.

A cold cold wind now blows so cruel…

In my eyes and heart, you have never been a “bitch” or a “ho.” In my eyes, you still glow brighter than a million glistening, rising morning suns. In my eyes, only you and I can truly dance to the beat of the same drum. And for all of my life I have loved a black woman.

The black woman: Mothers and grandmothers who nursed, nurtured and swaddled me as a baby boy in strong but gentle arms. Aunties, sisters and cousins with whom my soul was knit with love’s yarn.

I have tasted for all of my life only the kiss of a black woman. With you only have I dreamt of making babies, of passing from this life to black heaven, to black hell or black Hades.

Of loving you Black Woman — and only you. And even as America’s most hated, at least always most assuredly loved by you. Of at least knowing that beneath the undercurrent of hate that has always existed, it never stemmed from you.

And yet, in this cold wind blowing, I now hear some of your voices too…

Some of them decree that we of black male gender are jealous haters. Anti-feminism purveyors.

Shall you too now become our social castrators? Shall you, in anger or bitterness, or justifiable indignation, or in search of justice against those brothers who have committed egregious criminal wrongs now sing that all too familiar song that lumps all black men in the same bin?

That paints us all as “dogs.” As deserters of our children. As inhuman beasts. As sex-crazed criminally minded creatures filled with rage and deceit. And the fallen among us as being beyond redemption or repair. And every black man a potential casualty of the venom that now fills the air.

When did I become the enemy in your so-called “gender war”? Weren’t we once both black and poor?

Weren’t we enslaved together? So why can’t we riff on purple mountain majestic imaginations as we reign together?


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