“Whites Only?” — a poem by Namaya

October 20th, 2020





Whites Only?

No Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, King Oliver, Satch Mo’ and his velvety horn, No royalty of Jazz! No A Train taking us uptown, no Langston Hughes, or Zora Neale Hurston. No Chuck Berry and rock and roll, Michael Jackson moonwalking, Alvin Aileys, Ralph Ellison or Invisible Man. No Ella Fitzgerald and her Tisket a Tasket.

White out their genius from this land?

No Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Crispus Attitcus, James Baldwin, Jackie Wilson, Mohammed Ali -float like a butterfly sting like a bee. No Harlem Nightclubs. No Chick Webb or Cotton Club and certainly No Cab Calloway White out their names, their voices.

White out their place in America?

No southern scenes, rural plantations, or sitting on the front porch sipping mint juleps. They would have to get off the porch and pick cotton in the fields.  No civil war, civil rights, Pullman car porter strike, Paul Robeson, WEB DuBois, Dread Scott decisions, Underground Railroad, or Sojourner Truth. No righteous woman demanding to know, “Aren’t I a woman?” No delta Mississippi Robert Johnson blues or the slave ports of Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, and the dozens more. No rum trade and northern fortunes; cotton empires of the south: No burning crosses.

White out their names from the American scene?

No Strange Fruit. No Caribbean plantations. No march on Washington and no one demanding freedom. No Rosa Parks, Watts riots, Black Panthers, Marcus Garvey, voter registration, thirteenth and fourteenth amendment, no Gettysburg address, and no soul on ice.

………White out their names, their voices, and faces from the American scene.

 White out the soul of America?

No Kansas City. No Harlem Renaissance, Beale street, or Kansas City or Motown Sound,  No Muddy Waters, Fats Domino, and deep river blues, hip hop, be-bop, r and b, rap, Billie Holiday, finger pop, funk beat, and 12 bar blues.   No Etta James, rag-time, soul train, do-op, swing time, none of that jazz; in fact, no jazz at all.  No BB King or blues. No cool sounds, hot notes, nor sound of the chain gangs.

White out their sounds?

No George Gershwin, and certainly no Porgy and Bess. No Elvis pelvis gyrations. No Buddy Holly, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who, Led Zeppelin, or Eric Clapton smooth white boy blues. No Little Richard or Sam and Dave, Isley Brothers, and certainly no Mr. Please, please… Mr. James Brown

No summer of love and the Woodstock festival and the psychedelic sixties would be grooving to the sounds of the Virginia reel and the music of Francis Scott Key. Oh, say can you see!

White out their names, voices, and face from the American scene?

Whites only?






Namaya is an internationally reknowned Jazz poet, storyteller, humorist and sublime improvisational artist. He has performed throughout the US and has toured in Europe, New Zealand, Japan, Asia, the Americas and Palmyra Syria.

Both as a solo artist, with his band the Jazz Beat Blues Poetry Ensemble, and with jazz musicians around the world, Namaya performs an astonishing blend of jazz word, story and improvisation.

Visit his website by clicking here






Listen to Namaya read a version of this poem by clicking here








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