Friday, November 30, 2012

Silenced Critical Voices: Nina Simone

by P. L. Thomas

One of the potential messages of the most recent Critical Theories in the 21st Century conference can best be framed as a question:

What forms can and should scholarly discourse take—especially critical scholarly discourse?

Our lunch-time experience with Hip Hop Psychology asked us to acknowledge the scholarship embedded in hip hop music and performance.

So it is with that in mind that I ask us to consider how often critical voices have been silenced and/or forgotten because of who stood behind the voices (because of gender, race, sexuality, or a whole host of blended intersections of marginalized ways of being humans) and how those voices were raised.

Here, I want to push against all that with the words and voice of Nina Simone.

Recently, I posted on Twitter a piece about the justice department in Mississippi tackling the school-to-prison pipeline in that state. Soon after, Annie Donvan (@ann_donovan) Tweeted me this song and lyrics by Simone:


lyrics:

(1963) (c) Nina Simone 

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it
Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam
Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam
Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer
Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam
This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet
Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last
Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer
Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying "Go slow!"
But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
Washing the windows
"do it slow"
Picking the cotton
"do it slow"
You're just plain rotten
"do it slow"
You're too damn lazy
"do it slow"
The thinking's crazy
"do it slow"
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don't know
I don't know
Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam
I made you thought I was kiddin' didn't we
Picket lines
School boycotts
They try to say it's a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me
Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you'd stop calling me Sister Sadie
Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You're all gonna die and die like flies
I don't trust you any more
You keep on saying "Go slow!"
"Go slow!"
But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
Desegregation
"do it slow"
Mass participation
"do it slow"
Reunification
"do it slow"
Do things gradually
"do it slow"
But bring more tragedy
"do it slow"
Why don't you see it
Why don't you feel it
I don't know
I don't know
You don't have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That's it for now! see ya' later

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