the Republic of poetry,
rent a helicopter
bombard the national palace
poems on bookmarks,
everyone in the courtyard
to grab a poem
from the sky,
Martin Espada “In the Republic of Poetry”
Harriet Tubman were elected president of the United States, the
Underground Railroad would become a modern-day institution in which
the “wretched of the earth” here in the U.S. would be gathered together
to rise from beneath the heels of their enslavers. These citizens
would form local committees to review what is best in the U.S. Constitution
as well as review the Iroquois Constitution and the Black Panther
education and food distribution programs. Freedom would take on
a new meaning and the word “reform” would be removed from the lexicon
of all languages. “Economically poor,” “liberal,” democrat,” “republican,”
“fundamental Christian,” and “conservative” would not represent
anyone. And we would come up with a flag that would represent all
the people and not be used to intimidate those of us who still do
not feel welcomed.
Ida B. Wells were president, any form of lynching would be
banned, the death penalty would be outlawed, and the prison industrial
complex would be dismantled. A freed and enlightened population
would come to recognize the truly “innocent” and the “criminal.”
A president who believes in justice would appoint a team led by
Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal to review the cases of all political
prisoners incarcerated in the United States and held by the United
States in prisons around the world. Those incarcerated under unjust
laws would be freed to learn to read and write by teaching
the young to read and write. Both the teachers-students/students-teachers
would represent a new institution of learners and doers for the
larger community goal of freedom for all. Prison cells would be
reserved for criminals like Karl Rove and his political and corporate
cronies who perpetrated voters’ fraud against the people; the entire
personnel at FEMA, Homeland Security, and the NSA, and corrupt local
and state officials, and judges—haters of the people—who can’t be
trusted to live among the people.
Malcolm were president of these United States, his VP would be someone
like Ghassan Kanafani and, if Kanafani were president, his VP would
be someone like Malcolm. They would teach the people to remember.
By remembering, the people would recall the value of their lives
and recognize their own ability to strive for a community where
the playing field is leveled and the hope for a truly new world
order is something in which they contribute to each and everyday.
"Wherever you have organized crime,
that type of crime cannot exist (sic) other than with the consent
of the police, the knowledge of the police and the cooperation of
the police," said Malcolm. Community counsels would replace
the police force and the role community patrolling would work to
eliminate what Malcolm called “organized crime.” Community counsels,
accountable to the people, would submit to weekly town meetings.
for the poor and working class who have been locked into a system
of servitude to the rulers will dissolve the income gap between
the rich and poor. The few would not have more homes than they can
remember while others are losing their homes or have inadequate
housing. Someone like Cesar Chavez would break the link between
the Democratic Party Machine and the labor unions and establish
the rights of workers to determine the conditions of their work
environment and negotiate the value of their labor. A president
of the people would appoint someone like Wangari Maathai, Secretary
of the Environment, and she, in turn, would appoint thousands of
African, Asian, Latin American, Caribbean, and Native American women
and girls to grow corn not for the further production of fuel and
profits for the rich but for hungry children who go to sleep hungry,
even in the United States. Maathai would consult with James Hanson,
and they would work with a team of to end the catastrophe of ignorance
by working toward a more green-conscious world.
someone like Ella Baker were president, all children would be proud
of their heritage, and a little white girl would admire the texture
of a little Black girl’s hair. Corporations wouldn’t have more rights
than a Native American child, and places like Iraq would not be
seen as a good business deal for the procuring of more oil.
like Paulo Freire would head a team with Jonathan Kozol and Marian
Wright Edelman, and together they would work alongside the people
to provide quality education for all children. Teachers would see
their own child in every child under their tutelage. Every child
would be a “special needs” child—handled with care and love. In
addition, community sessions on this nation’s history of violence
will be conducted to confront the U.S.’s penchant for systematic
exclusion, humiliation, demoralization, and exploitation of those
with racial, cultural, and religious differences.
Father Ernesto Cardenal were president, there would be communities
of Solentiname here everywhere in United States as part of a real
free trade to share the beauty and wisdom of birds and deer
that would not have to worry about someone like Hockey Mom with
rifle in hand, hunting them down to add to her trophy wall.
someone truly compassionate were running for president, millions
would not die because of inadequate health care. People like Bill
Gates would produce computers free to everyone. Bill and Linda
would provide the salary for ethical scientists who would work to
find the cure to cancer, and all those who suffer from aids, diabetes,
and malaria would have the medication they need.
politicians would be replaced by men and women who truly love people
and who respect the land. You could expect the president to eat
a meal of beans and rice at your house. He or she would not ask
for money. Campaign funds would be obsolete. Anyone could run for
president and not have to amass a fortune in a true democracy. Those
people who keep track of how much a presidential candidate raises
would be out of work. They would be re-hired to track down truant
young children and mark off each precious child that is returned
to a classroom. You could vote on a Saturday, if you are Christian,
and on Sunday, if you are Jewish, and your vote will count. And
no—the Christian religion, in a true democracy, will be one, that
is, equal, among many, and to believe in the Sun, again, will be
no one’s business.
Martin Luther King were president, funding for wars would cease.
Troops would return home. A new institution to train and/or re-educate
negotiators and mediators would recognize the importance of a culturally/globally
literate neighbor-consultant in the world.
George, Darth Vader, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condi Rice,
and John Yu and the whole anti-people cabal would be rounded up,
stripped of their illegally acquired wealth, and sent to work on
behalf of the people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Columbia, Viet Nam, Iraq,
and Afghanistan, working on the land to develop amble food sources,
to build schools for adults and children alike, and to build hospitals
and health care centers or all those they have mutilated or who
have suffered from traumatic loss of family members. The people
themselves will teach these people how to work and to value work
that values the potential of people to live peacefully on Earth.
Anyone who calls himself a “maverick” will be subject to the same
rehabilitation program. In the evenings, these inmates of the people
would have to listen to lectures provided by freed activist Aung
San Suu Kyi—through a loud speaker.
like a Lumumba and Evo Morales would conduct seminars for would-be-presidents
across the global with no interference from the United States or
the IMF because the President of the United States would call for
the IMF to be dissolved and all debts cleared. Former monetary
investors would invest funds in any classroom full of children until
the money runs out. They would purchase new and updated textbooks,
computers, art supplies and musical instruments (because art and
music would return to the classroom). When their individual funds
run dry, former investors would become teachers, teaching children
to invest in humanity and the planet. They would have to make sure
children read Wilfred Owens, Siegfried Sassoon, and Walt Whitman.
capitalist institutions serving war and conflict would have their
profits confiscated and re-distributed to an effective, global poverty
program. Corporations like AT and T and General Election would not
be in the war business or nor could they employ slave labor. Former
corporate CEOs would have to live among the people as activists—actively
pursuing the goal of FREE trade among the peoples of the world.
A child in need of one book would receive ten books! Solar energy
would provide the heat that would never be shut off because former
CEOs would not want to see his or her neighbor using a space heater.
They could remain in business only if they offered their services
free to the people because those who remain would real want to work
on behalf of all the people.
the news would look like the best of an Edward R. Marrow broadcast,
with anchors of every racial hue and with news representing all
the peoples of the world without bias to any one group of people
or any ideology. To that end, the corporations would have to relinquish
control of the media outlets and turn them over to the people, to
responsible professional and citizen journalists.
someone truly peaceful were running for the president of the United
States, the Black man in Texas would still have his place of business.
Another would not have been shot in the face for wearing an Obama
t-shirt. And someone like Barack Obama can stand up and be a man
and be Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Arab, Black, Latino, Native American,
Asian and not have to apologize or explain.
would mean living without hatred and prejudice toward others. Peace
would mean thinking that everyone deserves to do more than survive.
It would mean thinking how wrong it is to have any group of people
profit and live because others are working to elevate them to a
higher standard of living. It would mean rethinking the idea of
work and the value of all labor. Peace would mean recognizing that
America’s “land of opportunity” slogan is immoral and serves as
a camouflage to exploit rather than allow human beings to
explore their potential as human beings.
new president would abolish the position of Secretary of Defense
and appoint someone like Rosa Parks Secretary of Peace. And she,
recognizing her own humanity among others, would sit and negotiate
with heads of state and encourage them, in this new day, to end
brute rule and the need to engage in mortal combat with their neighbors
on the planet.
one would say “nuculer” because the new president would smash the
Black Box and then order the armed forces to dismantle all nuclear
weapons. This would be bold leadership and welcoming to other heads
of state who, lead by their citizens, agree to do the same.
president would have to answer to the supreme leader—Pablo Neruda—declared
supreme leader by a people truly enlightened in the wisdom of Confucius,
Rumi, Jesus, Buddha, and filled with love for humanity and nature.
In the republic of poetry,
the guard at the airport
will not allow you to leave the country
until you declaim a poem for her
and she says Ah! Beautiful.
in fear of “spreading the wealth” will find that capitalism is out
to lunch—permanently! If your god would hate this world order, and
if you would feel slighted, indeed, impoverished, “spiritually”
or otherwise, then perhaps your imagination has been too limited,
flawed. Consider Rapture—soon rather than later. Go! Or consider
space flights leaving from Houston for some other planet. (Please
let Hockey Mom be first in line—whichever line!). Clear your bank
account and fly off where you can have the economic system that
makes you feel like a king or a queen among your peers. Exploit
and kill elsewhere!
let some of us imagine a new and better world—without you!
only we could elect someone like Harriet Tubman for president…
Editorial Board member, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has been
a writer, for over thirty years of commentary, resistance criticism
and cultural theory, and short stories with a Marxist sensibility
to the impact of cultural narrative violence and its antithesis,
resistance narratives. With entrenched dedication to justice and
equality, she has served as a coordinator of student and community
resistance projects that encourage the Black Feminist idea of an
equalitarian community and facilitator of student-teacher communities
behind the walls of academia for the last twenty years. Dr. Daniels
holds a PhD in Modern American Literatures, with a specialty in
Cultural Theory (race, gender, class narratives) from Loyola
University, Chicago. Click
to contact Dr. Daniels.