What Else Do You Want From Us?

 

(a question from the American black man to the American white man)

   a 1969 poem by Teddy Edwards

"You took our blues,

our very soul,

And changed the name to rock and roll…”

© Declan Haun

Young woman picketing the courthouse 

Monroe, North Carolina

August 26, 1961

You brought us here aboard your ships

 

And introduced us to your whips;

You used them well across our hips

And left so many in the dip.

 

On blocks you put us to be sold;

You kept the young-destroyed the old.

We gave you scientist skills untold;

We gave you poets so brave and bold.

 

Our language soon you took away

By cutting tongues out day by day;

If to your God I knelt and pray,

There’s not one word I know to say.

 

You raped our sisters and our wives

And by the rope you took our lives;

You’ve told your children lies and lies

And hurt them much by truths denied.

 

We nursed your young and cooked your food;

We plowed your land behind your mules;

We try to live by all your rules-

Still you don’t want us in your schools.

 

We rode the back while on your bus

And worked for you from dawn ‘til dusk;

Would you have done the same for us,

Without ever making a fuss?

 

We sing and dance to warm your heart

While you still keep us far apart;

We gave you jazz, your only art,

And you’ve condemned it from the start.

 

We’re “boy” when young-“uncle” when old;

Never a “man” the story goes;

You took our blues, our very soul,

And changed the name to rock and roll…”

 

In sports, we hold your banner high

While your anthem speaks a lie;

We take your insults with a smile

And hide our feelings deep inside.

 

Your constitution says we’re free,

But we know better, you and me;

Integration is incomplete

‘Cause you don’t want it obviously

 

We’ve been with you through thick and thin,

Yet you don’t want to let us in;

With en-e-mies your time you spend

While they just lay to do you in.

You say we want too much, too fast,

When from the start you made us last;

The mys-te-ry, it must be vast,

How we survived our rugged past.

 

In capitalizing, you excel,

But you defied Black Power yells;

You wonder why your youth rebel-

They want to save us all from hell.

 



You thought you knew us one and all,

But now you find you didn’t at all;

We heed your law and order call

Though it was never meant for all.

    

We’ve waited, O so patiently

While struggling deep in poverty;

We’ve hoped and prayed on bended knees-

Believed in Chris-ti-an-i-ty.

 

We helped you make your trips in space;

We helped you win the lunar race;

To look into a bigot’s face

Just leaves me more and more amazed.

 

We know there’s good among the bad,

But man for man it’s kinda sad;

Although sometimes you make us mad,

We’re still the truest friend you’ve had.

 

The last one hired-the first one fired;

In all your wars, we’ve fought and died;

When will you ever re-al-ize

We need each other to survive?

 

Tell me…What else do you want from us?

"Black Children and White Doll,"

Photo by Gordon Parks 1942

"We sing and dance to warm your heart

While you still keep us far apart;

We gave you jazz, your only art,

And you’ve condemned it from the start"

"You say we want too much, too fast,

When from the start you made us last"

Little Man

lyrics by Teddy Edwards 1991

"There's one thing you will learn

Is things you have cherished

Are things that you have earned"

"Love is always in the air

It is there for those who care"

As sure as fire will burn
There's one thing you will learn
Is things you have cherished
Are things that you have earned.
Luck is when opportunity
Meets with preparation
And the same is true for ev’ry generation

Little man
As you climb upon my knee
the whole future lies in thee
Little man.

Little man

Never hurry take it slow

Things worthwhile need time to grow
Little man.

Don't look back
There are things that might distract
Move ahead towards your goal
and the answers will unfold.

Little man
Love is always in the air
It is there for those who care
Little man.

Don't look back
There are things that might distract
move ahead towards your goal
and the answers will unfold.

Little man
love is always in the air
It is there for those who care
little man.

 

little man

little man

Little man.

"Don't look back

There are things that might distract

move ahead towards your goal 

and the answers will unfold"

i can see

BY THEODORE M. EDWARDS - 1987

TO THE PEOPLE OF THE NETHERLANDS

I CAN SEE

Why your windmills, wooden shoes and tulips, have brought you worldwide fame. 

But you have so many things, for which to stake a claim.

Your highways, trailways, rail –and waterways, are feats to behold,

And they are only parts, of a story yet untold.

 

I CAN SEE

Why your artists stand stall, among the very best,

for they’ve done more with less, than most of the rest,

they had no valleys, no desert, no mountain side to paint,

but they captured their subject masterfully,

whether broad, or whether faint.

 

I CAN SEE

Your love for music, how important it is to you,

by the caliber of your musicians,

and the support you give them too.

Through your appreciation, you give them inspiration,

and through your faith, you give them motivation.

 

“ART IS TO THE MIND, WHAT MUSIC IS TO THE SOUL.”

I CAN SEE

Your athletes compete, with the best in the world,

with pride and dignity, every boy and girl.

They are to be admired, among the youth of today,

for like so many others they too could have gone astray.

 

I CAN SEE

The premium you put on education,

a most vital commodity to the salvation of a nation.

Everyone has a chance to improve their creation,

and everyone is encouraged, to use their imagination.  

Generation to generation.

 

I CAN SEE

Your determination is tenacious, during adverse weather situations. 

Nothing seems to stop you when you have some place to go,

be it sunshine, rain hail, sleet or snow.

 

I CAN SEE

The respect you have for others, who are not the same as you,

no matter what their sex or color, no matter what their view.

Religion fanatics, political fanatics, find solace within your shores,

health food addicts, drug addicts, the pimps the whores.

To me this is freedom, and freedom at its best.

And it reigns throughout your country, north south, east and west.

 

My hat goes off, and my heart goes out to you,

because you are very special from my point of view.

 

Thanks to the people at TROS, AVRO, VARA and NOS, for they’ve been most kind.  

And thanks to your press, for honesty and sincerity, with every written line.

Thanks to many others, too numerous to mention here,

for their hospitality and friendship, and things they hold dear.

 

A special tank to the family Rein de Graaff, and family Peter Huijts,

for their love, and friendship.

 

Beyond a shadow of doubt.

 

Bedankt, dank u, en dank u wel.

“ART IS TO THE MIND,

WHAT MUSIC IS TO THE SOUL.”