Black Imagination and the Middle Passage

Black Imagination and the Middle Passage

Black Imagination and the Middle Passage

Black Imagination and the Middle Passage


This volume of essays examines the forced dispossession of the Middle Passage through the texts, religious rites, economic exchanges, dance and music it elicited, both on the liminal transatlantic journey and on the continent and eventual return. As a whole this collection establishes a broad topographical and temporal context for the Passage that extends from the interior of Africa across the Atlantic and to the interior of the Americas, and from the time of the Middle Passage to the present day. A collective narrative of itinerant cultural consciousness as represented in histories, myth and arts, these contributions reconceptualize the meaning of the Middle Passage for African American history and fiction.


The Middle Passage Blues

"Middle Passage:" the WORD means blues to me.
Look at it front or backside, it still means BLUES to me.
If I'da been a sailor on the Seven Seas
I'da sailed the seven ENDS and let the MIDDLES be. . . .
But if I'da been a sailor, I'da still been black.
THAT'S why the blues keeps sailin' back.
The blues keeps sailin' back.

I can HYP-NO-TIZE myself rememberin' Grandma's chair;
she had slave-girl mem'ries, and she rocked and hummed'em there:
her daddy's neck and legs in chains, his own vomit in his hair--
stories Grandma told me--she rocked and hum-m-med'em there:
Great-grandpa's neck and legs stretched out, with vomit in his hair;
and suddenly I'm runnin'-runnin'-runnin' through the town,
faces spinnin' round me while I'm runnin' through the town,
runnin' with my feelin's, tryin' to run my feelin's down,
Grandma hummin-n-n-n at my feelin's while I'm tryin' to run'em down;
till suddenly . . . I see her chair, I feel she's got my han'
and she's sayin' "When you grow up you be a Middle Passage man."

Middle Passage mem'ries . . . they in a dungeon in my head.
Ain't no jailor, ain't no keys, ain't no judgment read;
but I hear clankin', I hear breathin' (all them dungeon folks ain't dead) . . .

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