Poetry Second Page: Use Your Imagination
Ethnic Notions: For Marlon Riggs

You were one of our sharpest social critiics, MarlonQuestioning the depiction
Of African Americans
Both past and present
Through your timeless movies

Ethnic Notions
Color Adjustment
Tongues Untied
Black Is/Black Ain't

I used your movies
In diversity training
And even donated
Copies to my local library

                             You showed the power
                              of documentary
                              To make us squirm
                               in our seats

Recalling those old sterotypes
you had uncovered
Uncle Joe
Aunt Jemima
Watermelon head
Characters designed
To deny us our humanity
While mocking the very notion
Of being black
And proud

                         If uncovering racism
                         Was all you had done
                         That would have been enough
                          But like James Baldwin
                           And so many other
                           Talented and black
                            Gay men
                              You had so much more to offer

In part because of
What life had offered:
And love
With a white man
And a bigot
Named Pat Buchannan
Who put Tongues Untied
Into his
Campaign commercial
And broadened
Your audience

                 Indeed our tongues
                  Will forever be untied
                   By our embrace
                   Of this under world
                    Bring out our Black Gay and Lesbian
                    Brothers and sisters
                     Love them as our own
                     Challenge our ethnic notions.

Kenyatta Yamel
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