Poetry and Prose by JJ Johnson
All works Copyright © Joseph F Johnson
Seeds And Weeds is a philosophically expressive compilation of poetry and prose, creatively expressed in rhyme and reason. The poems within are more than simply a collection of verse with splashes of imagery. Seeds And Weeds challenges the mind and heart to find a better way through observations and feelings on the rise and fall of character.
in the moment, the poetry here is sometimes harsh, but always honest. Digging
deeply into the essence of poetic creation, they have not been conjured from the
casual observations on life that some would accept as poetic inspiration. These
works are the raw emotions, articulated in words that have been inspired by a
lifetime of experiences. Offering progressive views on equality, justice,
politics, peace, war, environment, nature, fate, faith, family, friendship,
introspection, and poetic inspiration, this book explores the struggle between
human instinct, intellect and compassion.
Pride & Prejudice
Chapter 1 excerpts *
(prose and poems Segregation* and Separation*)
(poem 3 Seeds* can be read on the main index page)
Since the age of
five, I wondered why people hate. In April of 1968 I heard a man had been killed
because he was black and believed everyone was equal. Iíd never heard of
Martin Luther King Jr. before that day, at least not that I was aware of, but
suddenly everyone was talking about him. I did not know many black people, but
the one family I did know seemed no different from anyone else to me. Though I
do recall when I first met them, just one year earlier when I was four, having a
perplexed first impression.
riding past their house on my tricycle, I saw a girl about two or three years
older than me on the front porch. I stopped to look at her and asked her what
was wrong with her. She didnít seem to know what I meant and asked me what I
was talking about. I asked her if she had been burned in a fire and she told me
she hadn't, so I asked her why her skin was black. She told me that was just the
way she was born and that was how her whole family looked.
four years old and growing up in a small town with very few black families, I
wasnít sure what to think, but in many ways that was a good thing.
one had yet infected my mind with prejudice, so my sense of curiosity took over
and I decided to get to know this girl. Later I met her parents, found them to
be nice people, though not particularly sociable, and got to know her pretty
well. So when I heard that Martin Luther King had been killed because he was
black and many white people hated blacks, I did not understand why. I wondered
what I couldnít see. Was there some mysterious evil lurking beneath the skin
of my friend?
In all of the years since, I have watched peopleís behavior, listened to the public and private comments of white people who carried this hate within them and drew many conclusions. Those conclusions have lead me to form a philosophy on hatred that has evolved into what I refer to as ďThree SeedsĒ. I have wanted to get to the heart of the matter and find a way to weed out these seeds so that they could never take root. But what to do about those who have already allowed the seeds to grow and who nourish them with their fear, their greed and their pride.
How can people who already hate, be taught to let go of their prejudice?
If only it were as easy as pointing it out to them and explaining what generated
these feelings, but it isnít so simple. You can point out every dandelion in
the yard, but some people think they look nice. You can pull out every last one,
but if you donít get the root, they grow back and spread to the neighbors yard
and their neighbors yard until they are everywhere. No one can weed every garden
and lawn. But if we work together as one, with one great lawn, there will be no
other side to appear greener.
my youth I realized all sorts of hatred existed right there in my little
neighborhood. I noticed how my white friends didnít really want to hang around
with my black friend and it bothered me very much. But I found it went beyond
color, as I had many white friends who would not play together. It wasnít a
religious thing, since most of them were Catholics and we all went to the same
church. It wasnít long before I realized that my friends, who lived in the
rich neighborhood, only two blocks in one direction from my house, really
didnít like the kids who lived in the poor neighborhood, only one block away
in the other direction.
in mind this is a small town and a block is only about a hundred yards long,
maybe two hundred in the rich neighborhood. So itís not like we are talking
about people on opposite sides of town. And there I was, in the middle, in a
nice house, though not big, on a nice street where both wealthy kids and poor
kids didnít feel too far out of place, at least so long as kids from the
opposite end of the financial spectrum didnít happen to be hanging out
There were rebels of course, as there are in all societies. But for the most part, I could see the division very clearly and often tried to get them to play together in football and baseball games and a nighttime hind-and-go-seek game we called ďchaseĒ. I was not always successful and the teams always wound up divided into neighborhoods. There would be arguments on every play and it usually wound up breaking down before the game was over. So most of the games ended up as financially segregated events with smaller teams but more fun. If I had been able to see more clearly what I can see now, I would have made greater efforts to mix things up more often and pick players from the opposite ends of the neighborhood for my team.
But I knew that if kids wound up on a team they didnít want to be on,
they would threaten to quit and go home, and at that age I more worried about
having fun playing ball than worrying about who was from which neighborhood. And
since I was usually the one making all the phone calls to get everyone together,
I often wound up as Captain of one team. I knew who the best players were and I
knew who would get along, so I picked my players to get the happy medium. I
donít remember who won more and who lost more, but having fun was the ultimate
goal and more often than not, it was fun.
still didnít understand why this atmosphere of hatred existed between my
friends. Why was I accepted in both neighborhoods without a second thought? Was
it simply because I was in the middle, in more ways than one, or was it
something else? Did I project a feeling of equality to everyone that made them
comfortable to be around? Or maybe it was some combination of factors, that made
it possible for me to have friends of all kinds, to make friends with pretty
much everyone I met?
I find most difficult to understand is, if I have this ability, if I can be
friends in all of these circles, isnít it possible for everyone to do the
same? Am I some special human that has a gift others do not, some vision that
allows me to see the intangible? I hope not. I want to believe that everyone has
it, that there is something that turns others away from it. Maybe it is
something we are taught, maybe it is something genetic, but why do people hate?
is so ingrained in our history, not just American history, but all of human
existence, that it must be some left over cave-mannish behavior that allowed us
to endure when Neanderthals were becoming extinct. Humans are as savage as any
animal species on Earth when their survival is at stake. But what I find so hard
to understand is why we still behave like savages when no such circumstance is
at hand. Are we that afraid, or just that greedy? Perhaps we love ourselves so
much that itís just easier to take from those who are not prepared to protect
themselves from our aggression.
Meanwhile, we can still hate, so
long as we live to fight another day (he said sarcastically). And God bless
America, we will need all the blessings we can get for the atrocities of our own
government. Not just in other countries, but right here in America, where the
soil is soaked in the blood of the native people and the African slaves. Was
it necessary for Africans to be stolen from their land for this one to gain
freedom? I donít see much difference in our history with the Native American
Indians. Did they need to be slaughtered and have their land stolen from them
for us to have a new place to live? The only reason they werenít made slaves
is because they were considered too savage to tame.
Feeling that discrimination is
justified will never bring an end to hate, conversely it will fill people with
more revulsion. No matter the reason for hatred or who is being suppressed, it
makes people have an aversion to being near people of the ďother kindĒ,
whatever that other kind happens to be. Women, African Americans, Native
Americans, the poor, people with disabilities, religions, homosexuals, short
people, fat people, homeless people and whoever else might happen to be
different in some way that they can be separated from the ones who have the
upper hand in a petty system that has afforded them power over others, are
victims of bigotry. Even if our survival didnít depend on it, we must be free
may be that we are born with some instinct to hate or a desire for power over
others, and at some point we learn who to turn that instinct against. I think
fear is the first instinct, the survival instinct. Fear makes us run from
predators and perhaps the reason we are here at all is because we find it so
hard to let it go. If fear is instinct, greed is learned and pride is taught,
but all three lead to the same result. Hatred is the enemy.
we can let go of our fear, our pride and our want for more, we will never be
equal to those we believe are lesser than ourselves. The mountain of equality is
a high one to climb, but there is a plateau at the top big enough for everyone.
Itís just so hard to teach the high and mighty how to climb when they think
they are already at the top. If they took the time to stop looking down on
others, they could see that they are at the top of nothing but their feet.
Pride Is One Seed
seed is masked in infancy
With its intoxicating allure
Its sexy remedy
Impersonating ones esteem
Inseminating the mind with arrogance
An artificial substitute for confidence
Yet this sweetener is no equal
Stroking the ego
Through external heights that excite
Leading to a bitterness deep within
Fueling a growing resentment
For all that is physically different
Forgetting that at the core we are One
We are the same
Letting go of who you are not
Is the key to setting us all free
As part of you is a part of me and we
And in One we are all together
Our commonality is the seed of our equality
You are my equal and I am sorry
While the shame I carry for four hundred years of hate
Cannot be let go of by one alone
It must instead be released by One together
Created On: 04/04/1997
Does God consider the world we live inwhen judging us?
I wonder if God will take into consideration our weaknesses because the
world we live in is so hard for us to live by his rules. I wonder if he, or
maybe she, will consider how we did very little, as individuals, to change the
world. For over ten years, I lived in a neighborhood where drug dealers and
prostitutes made a living. We had drive by shootings, a guy was murdered in my
back yard, hands tied behind his back, on his knees, shot in the back of the
head, all manner of crime every day. It's the world I lived in for a long time.
I am glad to be out of it, but I never used it as an excuse for my actions.
people become complacent because each individual thinks the world is too big for
them to make a difference, all one has to do is look at GW Bush, Adolph Hitler
or Osama bin Ladin for just how much one person can do to change the world.
Jesus said, love thy enemy, turn the other cheek, and put down your sword. One
does not need to have a negative impact to be influential, it's just easier to
be destructive and be remembered than it is to bring hope to those who are
filled with despair. So few people are capable of baring that cross.
easier to admire those with Earthly riches and power than to believe in a man
who can pick up a cleaved ear from the ground, put it back on the soldiers head
and bring about an end to violence with the touch of his hand. Of course, that
act was only leading up to the eventual violence of the Passion, but look where
we'd be without it. I often wonder if bodily suffering is Godís way of purging
Heaven bound souls of the sins they have committed but cannot admit even to
while people are busy being afraid to walk down the street in a neighborhood
that has a reputation for violence, fear is maintained as a cruel survival
instinct that evolution could not filter out of humanity. Not that people should
go around committing suicide, but the fear of dying is for those who are afraid
that when life ends, there is nothing else, or eternal damnation, whichever fear
you prefer. Terror is very easily rationalized when politicians become masters
of the politics of fear.
I feel sure Martin Luther King Jr. would not have changed a day in his
life, even if he knew he was going to die that April night in 1968. Some say he
did, as he seemed to be foretelling it in the speech he gave the night before.
The next day, when I saw on the news that MLK was assassinated, it was the first
time in my life that I learned people would kill others out of hate. Even though
I was only five years old, I remember wondering why. It started me on a lifetime
quest to understand hatred. It's how I came to write the poem 3 Seeds and why I
am writing this book.
recent passing of Martinís wife Coretta has reunited these two inspirational
souls to watch their dream unfold from above. That she carried his dream on her
shoulders all these years since Martin was taken from her is an example to all
of us all that we should not have idle minds or quiet voices no matter what
those who plant hatred conspire to do. King's death made me aware of something I
might never have given a second thought or worse, become part of, the
institution of racism.
am doing something. I am not sitting silently by. I am trying to make a
difference that I hope is for the better. It feels right, it drives me in the
only direction worth going in, ahead. I don't know if I will succeed or if
anyone will listen, but I am doing what I feel I must do. I don't know why, but
something inside pushes me to search and expose prejudice. I have been told
itís not my struggle, that I should let those who are affected by it do the
fighting. But it does affect me, it affects me deeply. Everyone is affected by
hatred and everyone should be talking about it.
I might have turned out as hate filled or complacent as others I have met along the path of life. I could have used excuses to hate, or to do nothing, then blame it on the place I lived in or the people who influenced me. Then after dying, show up at the Pearly Gates and say, "Well, I just did what everyone else was doing. Look at how hard it is to live in this town, in this world. I think I should get into Heaven because I was looking out for myself, I never harmed anyone." Is that enough, to live in isolation and never harm anyone? How much harm does doing nothing bring? How much, indeed!
We have got to work together to
heal the wounds of the past and end separation and segregation. We can only lose
our fear of the unknown through exposure to our differences. Having lived with
people of different religions, colors and sexes, I know that we can learn from
each other and do more than just get along. I wonder if the reason some people
canít swallow their pride is because they canít stomach who they have
become. If you are a hater, I donít hate you, I hate your attitude!
hatred of individuals for one another or for groups is made even worse when
those who live with it inside them promote it and encourage others to join them
in their crusade against equality. It is done in so many ways for so many
reasons, but it is the same no matter if it is aimed at races, religions or any
other thing that one group can twist and blame their rivals for whatever
calamity has befallen them. In recent years world events have shown just this
sort of disrespectful warping of religion in the name of free speech.
cartoon of Muhammad wearing a turban in the shape of a missile is at the very
least a disrespectful stereotype. The idea of Islamic terrorists could very
easily have been portrayed more accurately and less offensively by simply
exposing the face of the one man who represents terrorism, hiding behind a mask
of Muhammad instead of using the image of a peaceful prophet whose message has
been distorted by those who use religion as a rallying cry for murder. To those
who are of the Muslim faith, these tasteless seeds of hate are the ultimate in
I respect and support the freedom of speech to the fullest extent, I view this
kind of cartoon as hate speak and feel it has no place in a publication of
journalism. I do not want to be viewed as a war monger because my countries
majority leaders happen to be Hell-bent on waging war wherever it decides the
evil dictators are not strong enough militarily to put up a fight. I wonder why
we havenít attacked China or why we didnít attack the Soviet Union, what
with the histories these governments have of atrocities against its own people.
Perhaps it is because we are not very likely to win and there are no oily spoils to claim. The message we send to the world with such contradictory policies is that youíre on your own unless we have something to gain and have a good shot at winning the war.
Seeds & Weeds - (prose)
budding seed of prejudice
winds and twists through the shadows of the brain, but unlike nature's trees, it
requires darkness to sprout.
The emerging weed becomes a ruthless root stalking the heart.
Weeds become harder to kill as they gain a firm grip on our hearts, stubborn and painful to remove.
Pulling them out fails to remove the roots and merely makes the lawn look nice for a little while.
People are forgetful of the small lessons in life;
To get the weed completely out so that it does not grow back, one must dig farther down to stop it from resurfacing.
Humanity must be educated on why hatred is wrong, where it comes from and how to look inward to spot the roots growing inside.
Once you can see that far down, purge them with the strongest weed killer of all, love.
With great conviction, internal honesty is imperative. There is no room for denial, no tolerance for falsely rationalizing what kinds of prejudice we will leave the roots for un-plucked. Because it is like a viral infection it also can transform into other shadows of hate.
You might say, "OK, I won't hate other races or religions, but damn those gaysĒ and in the end you will not have done anything but fool yourself into believing you're a better person when you are not.
Don't close the curtains at the bottom of your heart and hope that no one notices. Others may only be able to see the surface of your person, but you have the ability to look underneath.
Open your heart completely, let the light shine on the seeds that desire darkness, shadow seeds like people who open umbrellas and rub on sunscreen in order to sit outside on a sunny day and not get burned. Allow your heart to become submerged in truth and that light will burn away the source of their growth.
The instinct is ever-present, always seeking nourishment. It's hard to keep hatred from taking root, but if made aware of it when you feel it teasing your mind and know its motivation, it can be cut off before the lurking in the shadows becomes a highway to the heart.
Created On: 06/21/2003
The first time I read Martin Luther Kingís last sermon, ďThe Drum Major InstinctĒ, delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, two months before he was assassinated, I was deeply moved and felt that I had found clarity to things I had sensed for many years. It brought into focus what I was trying to understand since my youth when I began to notice that certain of my friends didnít seem to like each other. The more it happened, the more I studied their reactions and behavior. But for all my witnessing of it, I didnít understand what was causing it. I wasnít immune to prejudice, but I was able to recognize when I had the feelings.
ďThe Drum Major InstinctĒ, King made all the difference in helping me see
what drives all of us to seek greatness. In the years just prior to reading his final sermon, I had changed my
views on pride from one end of the spectrum to the other. I used to think that
pride was a good thing, that it was the driving force that made people strive to
achieve great things. But after arguing the point with my brother Tom, I started
to question that concept. The more I thought about it, the more I began to see
pride as a deceptive conspirator in the march toward hatred.
I couldnít seem to find the happy medium that I was sure existed yet seemed
more and more like just another way to rationalize paving a pathway to
prejudice. The ego causes most of us to resent others when we fail to achieve
our own goals and often leads to
those failures from seeking more than we have earned.
As I was reading ďThe Drum Major InstinctĒ, I started to see that I had this instinct in me, even though I had denied it whenever talking about my desire to be noticed. I even went so far as to decide not to try to publish my own poetry so that no one could accuse me of wanting recognition. As I started seeing this repressed desire in me, I began to realize how connected it was to what I had been trying to understand about prejudice all those years. There is something inside of us, something we are born with, perhaps a survival instinct that makes us cry out for attention. If we make enough noise, someone will feed us, someone will take care of us and our basic needs until we can do it on our own. We have an infinite need to feel safe and the need never lets go.
The song ďI Me MineĒ by George Harrison reminds me of this Drum Major
Instinct that King was talking about. Though very brief, the song strikes a
powerful note about our egos and how it can lead us astray, making every
situation revolve around us, while attempting to persuade others to acknowledge
our personal greatness. When we allow the instinct to become more than an
inspirational means to achieve our goals, it strokes the ego, filling it with a
craving for more. When we attain those goals, we feel pride in what we have
accomplished. But when we are unsuccessful, it turns on us, causing shame for
our failure. If someone else succeeds where we did not, it leads to jealousy and
what about when it goes so far as to cause some to hate others before they have
ever done anything to be resented for? What if we fail at something and have no
one to blame for our shortcomings but ourselves? What if it goes beyond our
personal failures and encompasses our society? Who is to blame if we donít
want to accept the culpability ourselves? Who can we point at and make into a
scapegoat for what we could not accomplish on such a large scale? Who can we
exert power over, who may not be strong enough at the moment that we can take
advantage of and suppress?
Is there any distinguishable difference at that point, between hating others and stroking our own egos, trying to make us feel better about ourselves? Is there no way to reconcile our egos with enough temperament to achieve without letting our pride get the best of us. What makes Martin Luther Kingís sermon so important is that he answers these questions and brings them all into focus by telling us that we can feel pride for our accomplishments, we can be in the limelight without being egomaniacs. Yet some people become shooting stars, briefly satisfied with their fifteen minutes of fame, until the taste of celebrity dwindles and they need another fix. But we have to be strong enough not to ask for too much, we have to be satisfied with what we earn. If we want more, we must do more and we must not do it at the expense of others who have earned what they worked so hard to achieve. If we strive to be great in helping others, instead of trying to be better than everyone else is, then we can truly take pride in what we have accomplished.
( Posted on the main page @ www.seeds-and-weeds.com )
Created On: 05/12/2003
selection or Gay by divine design?
At what point is a personís sexuality determined? If a man or woman
never has sex, each dies a virgin. But if a virgin dies in love with someone of
the same sex, is that person considered homosexual in the eyes of God? If a
virgin dies while in love with someone of the opposite sex, is that person a
heterosexual in Godís judgment? Does the physical act of sex dictate if an
individual is heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual? All three spring from the emotions people
feel in their heart. If it were just a sexual thing, they could do it with
anyone and be happy. Love and sex are not the same thing. Perhaps we should
study homo-emotional, hetero-emotional and bi-emotional areas of the brain
How do you know one celibate from another? You donít. If it is the case
that a sin is committed at the moment it is thought, then celibacy counts for
nothing. It would seem that God designed people who have no choice other than to
fall in love with people of the same sex, only to be punished for it. If people
are made to pay for sins while still alive, whatís the point of forgiveness?
Why did Jesus die for us if God is going to circumvent the Passion and make us
suffer anyway? If any are judged one moment before death, they have not been
afforded the opportunity to repent for their sins and, consequently, the
covenant is broken by God.
Some suggest that AIDES is Godís way of making homosexuals pay for
their sins. If this were the case, God would not allow the innocent to contract
HIV. Hemophiliacs would not get AIDS, nor heterosexuals or their newborn
children if God designed the HIV virus. AIDES does not bend to Godís will and
apparently, neither does hatred. AIDS appears to afflict gay men more frequently
than others simply because men in general, gay or straight, are more promiscuous
than women. Do the math, fall in love, AIDS will die.
two hearts sing of their love
is immortal, people are not
21-year old Matthew Shepard, was murdered in an anti-gay hate crime in
Laramie, Wyoming in October of 1998. He died five days after the attack on Monday October 12,
Gay bashing did not begin with Matthew and neither did it end with him.
Charles Howard in 1984, Billy Jack Gaither, Laaron Morris and Kevin Tryals in
1999 to name a few. The list goes on and on, and then there are the other hate
crimes perpetrated against people of other races and every other thing that can
be discriminated against. The Black Holocaust here in America throughout the
Twentieth Century still adversely affects African Americans. Our criminal
justice system makes judgments every day based on the laws we have formed for
everyone to live under equally. But often it is not so equal and our judgments
seem less than honorable.
knew what they were doing that night was evil
Knot In The Loop
The manager of a store I worked in as a sales person was a woman whose grandfather had been a Nazi during WWII. She was a deeply hateful person who only accepted me after learning I am part German. One thing she did that I found annoying was play old records of German music, which I not only couldnít understand a word of, but didnít like the music either. She even told me how she had her grandfatherís war uniforms and medals hanging on the walls of her home. She seemed to think that because I was part of the Arian Race, I would feel the same way she did and she could tell me all sorts of things about her grandfatherís war heroics and how much she hated Jews and blacks, using the ďNĒ word. She told me in an accusatory tone of voice that she would never hire a ďNírĒ because they would rob the store blind.
During the Christmas sales season, we needed another salesperson to help with the larger volume of customers. When the District Manager sent a black guy from one of the other stores to help us, she went in the back office and stayed there the entire time he was working with us. Not only was it an obvious show of disrespect, but it completely defeated the purpose of having another salesperson on duty. After the sales slowed down later in the week, he returned to his regular store and she came out of hiding, pretending as though nothing had happened. If not for her obvious lingering anger over the situation, you would have thought she had just taken a vacation for a week.
Knowing how much she loved money and selling things to people that they didnít really need, it must have been an excruciatingly painful time for her. Missing out on so many sales must have put a major dent in her paycheck, which I found mildly satisfying. But having a guy she hated for the color of his skin, working in her store for an entire week, had to feel like being locked in a jail cell to her. That wasnít enough for me though, I was moved to write the poem ďSegregationĒ for her after witnessing the debacle.
The color of my tie
And The color of my skin
Won't alter what I know
Or change who I am within
Taste your own medicine
It's the same thing that you do
Maybe you'll figure out
Why everyone leaves you
Look beyond your mirror
At the face behind the glass
Inside you are inferior
You need more God than Sunday mass
Each time that you reflect
The cancer in you has grown
Do you still wonder why
You are always left alone?
See with better eyes
If your eyes are all you have
Watch your bias fossilize
Two good eyes will make it halve
Look inward to your heart
You will see the other side
Embrace your counterpart
Release this Aryan pride
Your Grandfather's glory
His Nazi blood within you
So proud to tell his story
So eager to hate those he taught you to
You assume they're guilty
Of the judgments that you make
You've said "They're Not Real PeopleĒ
You can't convince me that they're fake
Claiming they're all the same
But I know that isn't true
And the only person you can make me hate
Is the person inside you
Toe to toe and eye to eye
Death can't get us pride apart
Now the only thing that needs to die
Is the hatred in your heart
Created On: 12/30/1988
The day after writing ďSegregationĒ I was riding on the bus and couldnít help but notice that as people got on the bus they would sit next to ďlikeĒ individuals. By that I mean women would sit next to other women, men would sit next to men, blacks next to other blacks and whites next to whites. As usual, the bus filled up rather quickly and seemed as segregated to me as if someone had turned back time to when blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. As more people got on the bus and there was standing room only, people were actually squeezing into areas near others of ďtheir kindĒ, not wanting to even be near someone of a different race or sex. Everyone seemed to have a place on the bus, like a chessboard, with the black pieces lined up against the white pieces and the pawns all stood in a row.
Eventually, the bus got so packed that there was no more room for people to stand and the bus driver wasnít stopping where people were waiting to get on. It was interesting to watch the faces of the people, scowling at each other if someone rubbed up against them who was of the opposite sex or another color. There was tension and anger everywhere and I started thinking about the poem I had written the day before. It wasnít just one white person, it wasnít just white people, it was everybody. At that moment, I could see disgust in the eyes of nearly everyone I looked at on the bus that day. I had seen it before, but on that day, it was all around me. Although I knew anyone was capable of hate, I hadnít seen it like that before.
The difference was in the way it was expressed, almost secretly, but no one was really trying to hide it. It was more like everyone was afraid to let it out. And I was thinking the only change people made was becoming aware they had to hide their feelings rather than stop the hate. The hate that blacks have for whites almost seems justified, almost. Not because of slavery, because that was a long time ago and no one alive today has experience it. It seemed to me, after what I had witnessed at work, not only in the fiasco during the previous week, but in other jobs all during my adult life, that blacks were still being discriminated against on a daily basis in all manner of situations. Not just work, but when they go shopping, being watched by security, getting help from sales people, going out to eat, getting seated in segregated patterns, usually in the less desirable areas. But itís not enough to see it, hatred has to be outed to show those who refuse to see it, that they are not immune.
If the truth is evolution
Or if God determines our blessed fate
Never mind his absolution
When it's easier to separate than release your hate
Wouldn't it be the solution
To run away from what's inside of you?
Never mind a resolution
When it's easier to cast blame on everyone but you
I admire all those who've tried
Whose lives demonstrated a peaceful way
Never mind those heroes who've died
When it's easier to quietly waste your life away
Don't believe everything you hear
Or reflect with contempt, hate they don't hide
Never mind overcoming fear
When it's easier to mask your hatred behind your pride
Pride is an arrogant parent
Suckling its growing prejudice child
In my mind it is transparent
And grows easier to see through the higher up it's piled
Created On: 12/31/1988
Where Will You Aim Your Hate?
voiced in black and white
question in his breath
to run, but run the race
ground, look back, see Death
the coming revolution
me be the first to die
I will not pull your tooth
will I pluck your eye
me offer both my cheeks
your bloody fisted hand
me twice but hate me once
reparations flood the land
believe the words Iíve heard
most would rather listen to lies
long as one distorts the truth
long as three seeds grow, hatred never dies
the breeds you despise are dead
will you decide to hate?
when thereís only one kind left
you decide your brotherís fate?
__________________________________________________ Prose NYS
OCFS Graduation Speech, Parker Training Academy, 12/10/99 (
__________________________________________________ Prose NYS
OCFS Graduation Speech, Parker Training Academy, 12/10/99 (
NYS OCFS Graduation Speech, Parker Training Academy, 12/10/99 (
I first started working for the Office of Children and Family Services in April
of 1998, I ran in to an old friend who asked me where I was working these days.
I told him I was a YDA at Tryon in Johnstown. He looked at me with a confused
expression and asked me what the heck a YDA is and what kind of company Tryon
is. I told him that YDA stands for "Youth Division Aid" and Tryon is a
residential center. His eyebrow raised and he asked me in a frustrated tone,
"What do you do?" I thought for a few seconds and said, "I'm a
guard in a reform school." That seemed like the right answer at the time,
but the longer I worked there, the more I realized that Tryon is not simply a
reform school and being a YDA is so much more than being a guard. Yes, we do
guard the youths in our facility and yes, we do our best to reform and educate
them, but those are the simplest definitions for what we do.
reforming assumes that these children were ever truly formed to begin with. We
have the opportunity and the responsibility to be a positive influence in the
lives of impressionable teenagers who, for the most part, have lacked positive
role models throughout their lives. We are mentors who help guide these young
people through the final stages of adolescence before their age makes them
legally adults, but are still children on the inside.
should we do this for kids who break the law and break the rules time and time
again? I'm reminded of a video we watched in class called "Eye Of The
Storm" about a third grade class room of blue eyed children and brown eyed
children. Not only did Miss Elliot teach those children a valuable lesson on
prejudice, but she showed how easily young people can be influenced and
persuaded by adults in a position to teach them. She demonstrated that it was
possible to change overnight, the students ability to learn based on what they
were told about their ability to learn, and how they were treated by the other
students after they were told half of them were better than the others. As YDA's
we need to take that lesson to heart and give these kids a sense of self worth,
but not at the expense of their peers.
Equality and consistency will create an environment that will allow us to use the opportunity we have been given to plant the seed of self-esteem. With that, when they leave OCFS to return home, they will not feel the need to rejoin or become part of gangs who make them feel safe and important. They will already have the self-confidence inside themselves to survive and a real chance to flourish on their own when they venture out into the world. To do that, we must do our best to share and instill in them our "Valiant Vision".
Boyz At Tryon
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To view excerpts of other chapters, click each Chapter title
Each Chapter excerpt presented on-line contains two poems with prose from that chapter.*
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ Seeds
& Weeds (main page):
& Weeds index
Seeds & Weeds (main page): Seeds & Weeds index
Chapter 2: Power & Peace*(click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
12: 1000 Keys *
13: Pay For The War *
14: Like Father, Like Son
15: Pride Blinds Biased Eyes
16: Nation's Pledge
17: Empty Arms And Burning Flags
18: Stars And Stripes
19: There's More Than One Way
20: Rush To Judgment - Judgment To Rush
21: God's Children / One Family We Are
22: Do Not Die For Me
Chapter 3: Faith: Search Within & Beyond* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
23: Great Unknown *
24: Pass On True Freedom
25: A Question Of Faith
26: Have You Heard?
27: Faith In What I Don't Believe
28: Unwilling To Let Go
29: This Dream I Dreamt Last Night
30: The One On My Shoulder - Never Succumb
31: No End To The Flesh
32: Invisible Light
33: Touch *
Chapter 4: Dysfunctionality & Family* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
34: Ro-Ro Rows Her Boat *
35: Quarter-Life Crisis
37: Within Me - Beyond Me *
38: The Task Undone
39: A Ray Of Sun From A Pot Of Gold
Chapter 5: Introspection* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
40: Life Is An Ocean *
41: Self Portrait
42: Forgive Not Forget
43: Two Faced
44: Constant & Changing
45: Walls And Bridges
46: Desire To Fly
47: The Man I Am No One Else Knows
48: Blind To The Me Others See
49: Stock Room Blues
50: But Does God Trust in US?
51: Struggle Against Success
52: Every Eden Has It's Apples
53: See Through Inner Eyes
54: I Am
55: Under The Bridge *
Chapter 6: Mother Natures Sun* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
56: He Who Laughs Last Will Be A Fertile, Mutant Cockroach *
57: Sleep (Hiding From The Touch Of Death)
59: Inner Eclipse
60: Full Womb Crescent Moon
61: Moon & River *
Chapter 7: State Of The Artrocity* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
62: Death Of A Virgin *
63: Artificial Artists (State Of The Art)
64: Artificial Artists (X-Reprise) *
66: Artists Are Lonely
67: Where Is My Muse?
68: Philosophy Therefore Poetry
69: A Test
Chapter 8: Broken Bonds* (click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
70: Drive Home *
71: Even The Best Of Us
72: This Quiet Cemetery
73: A Ghost At My Door
74: Soul Silhouette
75: Where Are You Going? I've Seen Where You've Been! *
76: A Door Too Close To Closed To Adore You
77: At The End Of Every Rainbow
78: Eye Of The Pirate, Heart Of A Thief
79: Sometimes Wishes Come True
80: What Happened To Us?
Chapter 9: Loose Ends*(click Chapter Title for excerpts*)
81: Big Hair
82: Across The Miles
83: Hidden Alterations
84: Unspoken Thirst
85: Daylightís Darkness
86: Two Color Souls One Color
87: Someone's Drowning In Your Pool *
88: Aisumasen Renee *
Do you know of someone who has allowed pride to grow into a colossal weed and strangle those who will not bow down before his regime?
Will we silently witness
the simultaneous strangulation of Humanity and Mother Nature at the hands of the
foulest fertilizer in the world?
It's time to weed the garden....
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© 2006 Joseph F Johnson
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Stop The Hate!
guys donít finish last, we just want to be sure no one gets left behind.Ē Peace, JJ
Stop The Hate!
ďNice guys donít finish last, we just want to be sure no one gets left behind.Ē