Amiri Baraka

Essay by iwantyourskullHigh School, 12th gradeA+, October 2006

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I cannot believe that I missed this entire controversy. Not only did I miss it, but also I had never in fact before even heard of Amiri Baraka. I suppose I was in the 10th grade at that time, but I by no means considered myself to be one who missed big news like that.

Baraka's poem is amazing, and shockingly controversial in the right ways. The lines about the Israelis "Cracking they sides at the notion" while they watched the Twin Towers explode, and the suggestion that 4000 Israeli workers stayed home that day, did give me some cause for pause. Still, I think that Baraka explained his reasoning for putting those eruptive lines in. As the article points out, Baraka uses two separate narrative voices in the poem. He could easily have been using his "governmental" or "white supremacist" narrative at the time. But then again, he may not have been.

The article depicts him as a bit of a sucker for conspiracy theories and he did publicly confirm his belief that both the "counterfeit" president and the Israeli government were not necessarily responsible for the attack, but that "they knew." I myself hate conspiracy theories. When undocumented, propaganda and speculations mean nothing to me. But, making rumors apparent does not deserve the elicitation of the title "hate speech." Despite the reasoning of the ADL that "to find fault with the Jewish state is to think I'll of Jews," the poem served a greater purpose.

The poem planted a seed in the minds of many American citizens (though apparently not mine) that it is important to question your government (who who who) and to find out what it is keeping from you. He also urges readers to understand that results such as the attacks of September Eleven generally come from a long and complicated history of oppression and violence, and speaks of white supremacy as being "the most terrifying form of imperialism and it's attendant national oppression." Couldn't be more true. Seems like the controversy is an avoidance of answering his question of "who?" That's how divide and conquer works. Huh.