“Nightmares are but American daydreams… poets stay woke.”
The Color of Drums showed in vivid color this daydream through American hiring managers promoting ethnocentricity disguised as meritocracy in the workplace, the executive branch practicing systematic genocide, news personalities blaming these filmed victims while passively watching the infallibility of our justice system actively populate the prison industrial complex.
These were some of the themes displayed in the Poetry Society’s event that encapsulated the vision of Martin Luther King, while also setting the pace for the future by using traditions from America’s African past.
The frequent applauses from the audience implied that they craved the real sunlight the performers illuminated. However, the greatest impact was obvious in the vast variety of past Poetry Society members that returned from all parts of the country and abroad with narratives of support, growth and discovery that this organization provided for them. Poetry Society’s confrontational approach to injustices is an expression of the family values and superior standards of acceptance that might inspire others to “stay woke.”
Olaudah Equiano (an African in London, a freed slave who supported the British movement to end the slave trade) recalled his life in what is now southeast Nigeria:
“We are almost a nation of dancers, musicians and poets. Thus every great event is celebrated in public dances, which are accompanied with songs and music suited to the occasion. Each represents some interesting scene of real life and as the subject is generally founded on some recent event, it is therefore ever new. This gives our dances a spirit and variety which I have scarcely seen elsewhere.”
This statement was published in 1789 and attests to the resilience of West African values and traditions that syncretize and enrich the American experience that is a gift to all of Lucy’s descendants.
This focus on our humanity and common struggle was displayed through the collision of poetry, acting, dance and song. All of which provided a direct and uncomfortable view into the perspective of alienated interracial and homosexual relationships. Haunting international perspectives of race and the ‘American Dream’ and the selling of violence, hypocrisy and consumerism by exploitative entertainment companies which are the greatest example of the Cave Allegory in its modern application.