Cotton

Cotton: (n) a plant with soft, white, downy hairs

It’s not cotton’s fault.

Cotton is not to blame.

But honestly, I can’t hear the word “cotton” without thinking about slavery.

I know—I’m weird.

It doesn’t keep me from wearing a cotton t-shirt or cotton socks. But cotton was a crop that was so difficult to pick, and grew in such a hot climate, that a funny wisdom on words that begin with a C
bunch of white people who couldn’t withstand the process, decided to abandon their entire moral code and respect for humanity and bring in black folks from Africa, convincing themselves that these souls were little more than apes—so that the damn stuff could be gathered and turned into a profit.

The world wanted cotton and the South didn’t want to pick it. So rather than finding a better way to do it or creating a living wage for those unemployed white Southerners who might be willing to consider pursuing the occupation, it seemed logical in the minds of those from that era to enslave a race of people to promote a crop.

Black people picking cotton.

The activity was the origin the racist statement, “You must be out of your cotton-pickin’ mind.”

That would have been considered a double insult: first, that you were relegated to picking cotton, and second, that you were as hapless as they insisted Africans were.

Even in the South today, when driving along, seeing these strange fields full of the white blooms, it crosses my mind: who’s picking this stuff now?

And then, to my horror, I drive a little piece up the road and see black brothers and sisters wearing loose-fitting clothes and head scarves, still plucking the crop from the field. Even though they now receive a wage for doing so, the sight is almost too frightening to perceive.

Like it or not, certain things become tainted.

I’ll never be able to see an old movie that shows the Twin Towers of New York in the background without tearing up.

I’ll never be able to view a Confederate flag without remembering the arrogance and ignorance that punished a race of people and imprisoned them into forced labor.

And I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a cotton field without being reminded of the atrocity that was brought about in our country by white people picking a white crop to undergird their white privilege while subjugating black hands to do so.


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Apropos

dictionary with letter A

Apropos (adj): very appropriate to a particular situation.

Mr.Torrence had an aggravating mannerism which put people off and made them eventually despise him for his short-sightedness.

He was one of my eighth-grade teachers and the faculty advisor for our student council.

Every time we gathered, got into the midst of what we considered to be a fruitful discussion about some things that needed to be changed in the school, or about various projects we wanted to pursue, which seemed to be in line with the wishes of our friends, he would interrupt and say, “That’s not apropos.”

The first couple of times he said the word, we were all chilled to silence, because no one wanted to admit that we were unfamiliar with the idea. But finally, one of the braver members piped up, “What do you mean by apropos?”

He chucked at our ignorance and replied, “It’s off-point.”

Well, I’ve never been one to accept the authority of a figure simply because he’s had more birthdays and wears a tie, so I piped back, “It’s not off-point if we don’t think it’s off-point.”

He furrowed his brow in disapproval and sternly warned, “I am the adult here and I know what’s apropos and what’s not.”

Once again we all cowered in fear.

No one said anything else, and truthfully, our little organization was completely unable to back any idea or complete a project.

I had this abiding belief in my soul that eventually I would get old enough that I would escape the “Mr. Torrences” and be able to make my own decisions. But no matter how many bites of birthday cake I consume, marking the passing of my years, there continue to be these creatures, like Mr. Torrence, who want to decide for everybody else what is apropos.

Some do it claiming a reverence for God or a moral code; others do it because they have an inherent fear of change. And then, a vast majority put forth this profile simply to be controlling assholes.

Our entire country is stymied by a “spirit of apropos.”

We are stalled on the entrance ramp of the highway of life.

We are inundated by individuals who want us all to shiver in silence, never able to build up the speed to enter the stream of traffic.

Throughout the march of humankind, people have tried to chloroform new life by making us all afraid that what we’re about to do is out of line–and certainly not apropos.

Without the souls who are rebellious to the “Mr. Torrences” who come along, we still would be owning slaves, raising cattle, treating women like donkeys…and eating our dinner in the darkness of a cave.

 

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