This is how I imagine the trans-Atlantic middle passage. The countless bodies jammed into the hull of a ship, sweating in darkness. Tormented ritual of initiation into the New World. To travel to space one goes through months, in most cases years, of training and preparation. The survivors of the middle-passage went thru as much to travel to the New World and into slavery. The First Nation reference is there to give honor to the indigenous of the land and the foresight of ritualized transformation. The only group murdered more by police in the US than blacks, is Native Americans. The connecting of dots, of movements, of voices, and narratives…
“All Coltrane solos at once.”
While watching Arthur Jafa’s visual documentary “Colder Than Death,” about the current plight and status of America and the African American community from ’68 to the present, I was moved by a description of the middle-passage and the imaginings of what actually went on in that enclosed space.
The idea is that when one is already living in and through hell, day in/day out, with no end in sight, shackled to other beings, whose language you may not speak, what do you dream? No need to imagine hell when your in it, alive, still breathing, unfree. So where does the mind travel? Do you moan? Do you scream? Do you talk? Do you sing? Perhaps it was in the hull of those ships that the African-American experience was born, and every creative breakthrough, robotic dance move, explosive horn solo, breakbeat and rhyme-flow burst forth from there.
Read the rest of this moving piece by Saul Williams The Fader.