Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Tag Archives: Slavery

The weasly guy from “Mad Men” and
Demi Moore in drag?! Pass the cranberry sauce!


Here’s to my Mayflower descendants who
enslaved indigenous people.

Here’s to Wrong-Way Columbus, who
first allowed them to show how to grow food.
(Then he enslaved them.)

Here’s to Columbus Day, which
celebrates the schmuck above.

Of course, there’s always
another side of the Judas coin.

It’s a great day to spend with family,
gorging on food and getting tipsy.

It’s a great day to celebrate the
American version of football.

But this year, 2013, we have
a special treat in store:

Retail workers ripped from their
families to work on pre-Black Friday.

Come to think of it, just about
everything Thanksgiving is BS…

especially what they taught us in school,
that “the Pilgrims” (um, the Settlers)

and the “Indians” (who were here first)
dined together and had lots of fun.

Want to see fun? Take a trip to a local
reservation. And I don’t mean the casino…

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

At this, the 11th hour, I implore you, DON’T GO SHOPPING ON THANKSGIVING! It’s not fair to the employees. Of course, Lex and I will boycott all the Big Box stores putting this hokum over on America… but at least let the stores be empty on a national holiday. How about it?

And take a moment to pray for “American Indians,” whatever the hell that means. Just because they have casinos doesn’t mean squat – the guys at the top make all the money, after they pay off their Malaysian bakers for funding the building. And that takes years!

For ABC Wednesday, “T,” and “in the margins” at Poets United and Imaginary Garden with Real Toads.  With hope, Amy

Handling the Truth
(for Euro-Americans)

Bought and sold at auction
Everyday transactions
Fractionally human, they said, if that

In those “golden olden days,”
African lives were cheap
From deep in jungles, sold
by bribed tribal chiefs or
simply rounded up like
fleet and feisty animals

This nation brutalized
an entire civilization
If Anglos never feel
the slash of the lash…
If whites will not dare
to share the shame of slavery

After all these years
the pain of the past endures
and we won’t even watch the film

How can we dare say we care
about rancid, ruthless racism
still rampant in America?

Buy the ticket, damn it
(You already saw “Hunger Games”)
Or was Jack Nicholson right?
“You can’t HANDLE the truth”

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I have seen “12 Years a Slave” TWICE. Second time, to hold a friend’s hand and discuss the movie. Lex and I were breathless, angry, ashamed… especially that this film, the most important film ever made about the enslavement and unimaginable treatment of African peoples at the hands of “white” slavers, is tanking at the box office. People have said, “It’s too heavy,” or even, “I go to movies to be entertained, not educated.” Really?! What the hell do they mean? If people went through this shit, we owe it to them to at least watch a dramatization of the true story.

I know it’s tough. Especially when everyone is engorging themselves like tics on Thanksgiving turkey and bloating their credit card debt on Black Friday. But I implore you, GO SEE THIS FILM. We all need to face the facts.

This is for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads (protest poem) and Poets United’s Poetry Pantry. Peace, Amy

Folks, I know I’m way behind in visiting your sites, and for that I apologize. Think I’m back in the swing of things, but (and this is a good thing, not a complaint!) so many folks have wonderful comments, it’s hard to get to everyone’s sites for a look. I’ve given up on responding to comments on my work, but I guess visiting your site is better than blathering here!

Josie Two Shoes, a new friend, has begun her own prompt called “Two Shoes Tuesday.” This week’s word is “sacrifice,” so see what you think of my efforts below. I love all you folks for visiting, for being patient when I’m battling my manic depression, for being a source of strength, support, and community to me and so many others. Peace, Amy

African Mother’s Ferocious Love

Hunted, trapped like animals in their own village.
Strapped one to another: Mother, daughter and son.
Shoved into ships, below deck, so cramped,
no room to stand, sitting in human waste, crying.

The voyage was nauseating, grueling.
Thin gruel, water from barrels, not like
the clean, cool waters of streams of home.
Steadily, her people died of fever and starvation.

The sound of the whippings, the moans, night murmurs.
Her son finally succumbed to the wasting disease.
Now, as she wondered whether they would ever see land,
she felt his same gripping pain in her gut.

Up on deck for the hosing down and whipping,
she clutched her baby girl in her arms, carefully
inched her way to the rail and, in an instant,
they were both overboard, taken by the sea.

Her son had already been given to the water
after his death, tossed over like garbage.
At least now she and her baby girl would join her son,
together forever, engulfed in the endless waters. Free.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

NOTE: This poem has been edited from its original form, written in 2010.  It also appears at my poetic haven, Poets United.

W.A.S.P. Apology

Dear Tribal Peoples of the Americas,

My English ancestors arrived aboard The Mayflower.

You were enslaved, exposed to smallpox, forced to forfeit your land.

No longer able to hunt. Shot like animals, sent to reservations.

I am profoundly sorry.

Sincerely and in the spirit of repentance,
Amy Barlow Liberatore

Trifecta asked us to write a letter of apology in exactly 33 words, not counting the title, salutation, or signature. The was the best subject I could write about. All my friends know of my pride in the “shanty Irish” side of my family; however, my father’s ancestors can be traced to Richard Warren on the Mayflower.  While some view this as a heritage to be proud of, I’ve been trying to live it down, both as an activist and as a woman who educated herself on the facts of the matter. A racist website by some cracker named O. Ned Eddins plays down the torture and displacement Native Americans. History, once again written by the winners… yet, had we stayed with indigenous ways of respecting the land and thinking seven generations ahead, we would not be ruled by oligarchy in a despoiled land. Amy

Skin Like a Cloak
“The truth is,” said the professor,
“we wear our skin, each one of us,
like a cloak. Some feel fervently
that the color of the cover matters
greatly; others see only history.

“The residue of the bad old days,
‘black’ and ‘white.’ Vessels swept
into the harbor, offloading human
cargo. For these battered souls,
no breeze could refresh their sad
brokenness. Scores of years later,
for the Confederate flagged and
South Will Rise Againers, these stories
are muted, revised, considered
best stored in a trunk, hidden away.

“But we,” she continued, “can get to
the heart of injustice by unlocking
that attic door, dusting off the trunk,
prying loose its locks, and delving into
its heart of shame, of inhuman cruelty.

“Whites start by remembering.”

“By humbling ourselves to the truth.”

“By understanding the depths to which
‘entitled’ Anglos can sink when led by
minds filled with ignorance, greed, and

“Only by recognizing the signs of such
wretchedness taking root in the American
mainstream and fighting it… only then
can we ensure it won’t happen again.”

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Written for dverse Poets’ Pub and posted to my poetic touchstone, Poets United.