UNITY CULTURE SECTION – APRIL 20, 1984
LANIE POO HER LIFE HER DEATH OUR WORLD!!!
“Remember Kimako let me tell you about my gentle quiet sister, the dancer, the actress, the black woman, her name was Kimako, something blessed and wonderful.”
Kimako Baraka was killed January 31, 1984, in a senseless attack by a man whose madness and brutality reflects that of this society. She was only 47.
This eulogy was written by her brother Amiri Baraka and read at her memorial service in Newark, New Jersey. We think everyone can learn from Kimako’s life and struggle to be a Black woman artist.
The failure of all of us in here is staggering! My self, particularly, to have let my own sister, my only blood soror, expire in brutish violence. At the morgue my father stumbled backward, a cry broke from his lips. That his only daughter, Sandra Elaine, ie, Kimako, ie, something wonderful could be smashed broken des troyed.
And half our hearts & lives!
But how did we get here?
This tragedy clutching my speech
Our legacy as a people We africans in america
Because kimako’s destruction can only show how weak and defenseless we are. how trusted in sickness.
The prisoners cry: “let them stop it. those others, they know, let them stop this. we cant move, were frozen by the image of our captivity, let those others stop them, we can do nothing’ ’ except kill each other and ourselves.
Kimako made the ultimate mistake of wanting to be a creative force in this rotten society. Of being moved by truth and beauty. Of wanting to do nothing so much as Dance, to express the rhythm of life as a part of that rhythm. And when she could no longer do that. Still she would be an actress. To “speak the speech” that would uncover that which remains covered. To enlighten and later to endarken. To express the deepness of humanity which can only be approached through ART.
She thought, once she had made the decision to do these things, that nothing wanted to stop her. She thought she did not have to be a school teacher. As powerful a calling as that is, she did not want be do something after awhile merely to fill the list of middleclass norms that pass as life for many of the objectively nonliving.
Once she had gone past the curtain of self doubt and limitation the undead want to drape us in to insure we can never express what really matters in life, itself, its confirmation, what is real, what is alive, what is beautiful.
She did not understand, as I did not, when we were younger that one aspect of black national oppression is to be put in a jail of frustration because whatever one wants to realize in life if it is an expression of humanity, like a self fulfilling vocation, you are supposed to forget that. The black means slavery here. Be a slave or be … no you cannot be. It will not be allowed.
And then to be black and female. Kimako wanted to be a director. She wanted to be on the stage. To dance to act. And when she cd no longer do these things, she wanted still to be close to them, to have a hand at bringing new meaning in the world, but you cannot be black you cannot be female and aspire to creativity.
“Let us fight not submit not stand on the side and demand purity in the face of ugly .
When she reached a higher level of national consciousness as a result of the surge of the 60’s she could see clearly, by means of our truest guides Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, what she, what we all, are up against. So she put her hand to that struggle as well. She understood that the most important function of art is to tell the truth with such blinding force, such altering beauty, that the world itself is altered. That the noblest function of art is to force beauty into the world. To oppose ignorance and oppression. A word, a movement, a phrase of notes, arm, hand fingers extended perhaps pointing the way. Stevie Wonder of recent is an example of the tradition of the afro american artist. The old happy birthday is dead. Stevie moved us by the millions to demand Dr. Kings day.
Yet the slave demons of capitalism, racism, women’s oppression demanded that for daring to say blacks must be free that women must be free, her life was forfeit.
There was no way the powers that be were going to let her Direct. They would kill her first. No black woman would be allowed to be a black woman, a director, enthralled with truth and beauty. It could not be allowed. They would not permit it. They have put wormwood in some of our brains so that before we would dare attempt to be something forceful and positive, an expression of our historic tradition of resistance and struggle, we would sink deeper into the shadow void of “If only.”
Kimako tried to get jobs directing. She became one of the finest production stage managers in New York. She was black and a woman. But whiteness and maleness is what is the aristocracy of the status quo. Not blackness. Not femaleness. She must be forced back.
Too many already mind destroyed syn-cophants, even in colored skin, shout at us to stop trying to be free. To stop trying to create meaning to understand meaning in this world. Since the rulers demand our captivity our enthrallment with the status quo. Our worship of racism and male chauvinism, there are oppressed negroes who also demand subservience from us. Who demand that our total lives’ function be the worship of our oppression. Prisoners in love with their jailers, worshipers of Jail. Jailed minds. Jailed feelings.
For my part what is so horrible is that given the fact that I had a sister, only one sister of the blood, that the many plays I have written should have given her vehicles for her particular expression of our total collective lives. Kimako did act and direct some of these plays. But I should have created works for her. For black women. To say and be, and all of us therefore, would be. Our collective expression, raised again. In that African American tradition. In that democratic tradition reflected against a rainbow of nationalities and languages telling of that growth through struggle of something beautiful, something wonderful (which was her name) which we know to be the positive legacy of our lives on the planet earth.
But Fanon says that some of the oppressed are made sick by oppression and instead of killing our enemies, too often we want to be them. Being close to them makes the pathological feel more human, less oppressed, that they are allowed to be surrogates of the Not. No Yes, only No. Except Yes to slavery, sickness, Tommery.
“The noblest function of art is to force beauty into the world. To oppose ignorance and oppression. A word, a movement, a phrase of notes, arm, hand fingers extended perhaps pointing the way.”
Kimako’s crime, for which the mad the sick the rulers had her destroyed, was wanting to be genuinely human, inspite of the madness that passes as sanity and respectability. Why dont you get a real job? A Director? Why dont you get a real job? Or worse, I’ve created these parts but they’re not for you. You black woman, you cannot be seen, you cannot take your rightful place, the rulers will not allow it, nor those sick quirks transformed from humanity into devilish tools of our supposed non-being. But we are being. Any way.
My sister was murdered to set an example of non-being for us, to intimidate us. To say to us. get a real job. As slave, stop trying to be. all she wanted, was to be in the theater. Was that so terrible that you cdnit permit it, your aweful money gods? was that so terrible? you blinded white worshiping syncophants? you sick gobbiers of death potions. You dead tiptoers around truth — you creators of lies, you mother liars and father you brother liars you negroe liars you whte racist monopoly capitalist liars, you sick creeps crawling down the streets in the service of devil, murderers hired by pathology to rid the world of truth and beauty, who can only strike this one tiny woman down to try to frighten us. “Why should we feel sorry for you,” the nigger reporter whines, “what with your politics.”
“She wanted to be on the stage. To dance to act. But you cannot be black, you cannot be female and aspire to creativity.”
My sister was tiny, fragile, small, quiet, she laughed though we had our codes that came up with us from youth, we cd talk to each other in ways we used when we were in the secret seven, with board, and algie and norman and eddie and dannie and leroy and laine. Under the porch plotting the overthrow of ugliness.
Get a real job. Get a wig. Be white, was the answer. All she wanted, my sister, Kimako, was to be in the theater. Thats why she lived in the Manhattan plaza, new york post, she was a director, no matter your filth, she was an actress, a dancer, she had performed in hundreds of plays, yet they distort this because we cannot be allowed to be.
Thats why finally, unable to support her self the way she wanted as a beauty carrier a truth carrier she stumbled into Am WAY short for the American Way. And found what is the American Way for the black for the female. non being. Am Way is like an Amer-icanPyramid Club with slightly cultish overtones. But you had to recruit people to form economic units for financial gain, this was a so called real job. no you cant be a director, thats why the post had to question why my sister was even allowed in the manhattan plaza, the real job of black women according to these blood suckers is prostitute thats why the newspapers implications. Outside of new york it is even said by the wire services that I was a suspect in the murder.
A Swank Pad sd the Post, a government subsidized apt bldg for artists becomes a “swank pad” to complete the stereotype, to separate those of us who dare, from the rest, a swank pad. if black people have two chairs and a table, how did they get it. its a swank pad. you cant have good taste, youre a black woman, its a swank pad and you pick up drifters in bars or diners, get a real job. your real job is slave, slaves slave, get back, and the crazy brother, this hater, he’s so crazy he showed up at the precinct “in a top hat” the post says, get areal job. your job, black activist, being mad.
my sister was brutally murdered beaten to death stabbed to death by an insane reflection of the real american dream which is a nightmare, she was killed because instead of directing she was recruiting for Am Way. Now we cannot even open the coffin because we will not be intimidated even by the wanton destruction of this life so close to our hearts. We see here the way she looked. Sandi. Laine. Laney. Lanie Poo. Kimako. When she was director, producer, dancer, actress, black activist, when she was director of the house of kuumba (creativity) when she was proprietor and mover of Kimako’s with that wild image of the ancient egyptian destroying ronald reagan or was it nixon or was it atilla the hun, with a sharp unturn-able sword. We see that smile. We feel that longing for truth. We feel that laughter in her brimming out, that warmth, that expressed humanity.
I began by citing our failure. What was it. That we have not created a context in which life can live, in which creativity can be spared and developed, that we have not built a world in which something wonderful and blessed, kimako baraka, could exist, where life wd be sacred and protected, we cannot maintain something blessed and wonderful in this hell, we can but we have not. and so we forfeit, dr king and malcolm x were taken because we failed to protect them, my gentle fragile sister is dead because we failed to protect her. because too many of us would rather worship our enemies, to raise them on high, to cover our sisters with images of devils.
It is clear that Lanie Poo could not make it, that Kimako could not live because we have created nothing which loves them and secures their lives here in a world of pain. Lanie Poo needed a gun. Kimako needed an army of cultural workers, one strong brother would have helped. One blood relative not hypnotized by cave droppings, but alas, there was no one there the night ronald reagan sent his messenger of murder, none of us who claim to be strong or in love with truth and beauty, we were not there, too many times, repeated, we have not been where we were needed, can it be true that we will have to live out the rest of lives without something wonderful and blessed at our sides, we provided no food no sword no shield just idle words and turned backs, just the promise, that someday something else will be done, can the rest of us swear that? that we will not be intimidated that we will not continue to worship our enemies while mortgaging and collaborating in the murder of the blessed the wonderful, ill never say good bye to kimako, i remember lanie poo, i remember my youth, i remember the promise, i ve tried to make the commitment to transform this world, all of us who can say these things let us fight not submit not stand on the side and demand purity in the face of ugly and do nothing about it but kill each other like dumb crabs in darkness afraid of the sun. silent in the face of insult and murder, no. remember kimako let me tell you about my gentle quiet sister, the dancer, the actress, the black woman, her name was Kimako, something blessed and wonderful. before that she was called Lanie Poo.
Hey little girl, take care of yrself
she used to slip some vitamins in my hand
when we parted
take care of yrself
get some rest,
take care of yrself
Jesus Christ Not my sister….Oh No!!!