The Journal of the Unitarian Universalist Association

To Be or Not to Be
By Everett Hoagland

Meditations March/April 2000

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Want to “make it” in America?
ACCOMMODATE the inequities
of your oppression.

ASSIMILATE genteel genocidal
eurocentricity at Multiversity U.

CELEBRATE your color-
ful, quaint lack of power and
authority with cathartic, forked

tongue dialogs, “ethnic” fashion shows
of designer clothes, self-
plays, chilled wine, cheese and cracker

AGITATE the powers that be.
Become schooled
in their dictates
and you will be cool
as cash, closed mouthed
as quiet money.

ROMANTICIZE the way the masses
around the world have been
and are institutionally knocked
down, knocked up, kept
down, stepped on and stepped

over by the upper classes
and their agents, the true
big dog git ovah gangstas:

robber baron
board chair.

BE FUNNY about five centuries
of nullified negroes, four centuries‚
sold lots of three/fifths human
beings. Be hilarious about “bad” hair,

hard de facto facts
brutal, lethal service
and protection blues.

COLLABORATE. Buy into The System
that eats migrant workers for bread:
grape, bean, lettuce, and apple
pickers, underpaid, overworked,
ununionized southern female fish
house workers and “illegal” ones
from Central America who fell through
NAFTA’s net to our up-
lifting, fishes and loaves,
under-the-table, life-threatening work

“ethic.” Invest in down
sizing megamergers that leave u.s.
meager workfare jobs making hamburgers.

APPRECIATE a century of kindly quotas.

EQUIVOCATE recent years of negative action,
“reverse discrimination” rhetoric reaffirming
supremacy of the national myth:


We will do you
the inalienable right
thing out of our fair
mindedness, out of the goodness
of our historical hearts.
Have we not put true
red, WHITE, yellow, brown and
black-and-blue on you
for hundreds of years?
Put your fears behind you.
No need now to legislate
compensation, allowance nor
reparation for holocaust —
at least
not for you.”

BE CIVIL about all that
and “universal,” too.
Pursue your happiness
by any (unjust) means

APPROPRIATE. And you just might
be a limited (undeserving) “success,”
live LARGE and unserving
in this mass mess
we all call America.

New Bedford, MA, Unitarian Universalist Everett Hoagland's poems have appeared in periodicals including American Poetry Review, The Progressive, and the World and been anthologized in The Garden Thrives: 20th Century African American Poetry and The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. His recent book is This City and Other Poems (Spinner Publications).

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