Writings, Essays, Lyrics, Musings, Commentary . . .

Article #2: Nothing's Changed

This has been a wicked week. A six year old shot a classmate. Another hate crime took lives in Pennsylvania. The murderers of Amadou Diallo were acquitted. Bob Jones University changed its policy against interracial dating. The confederate flag still flies over the capitol of South Carolina.

As I write these lines, I am getting a headache and. . . a heartache. While so many advances have been made in the fight for civil rights, if we take a good look at America and at this entire world, there's still a lot of hatred, prejudice, poverty, unemployment --a lot of pain. What do we do? What should we do? Signing a petition on the internet is not enough. Making a donation to Habitat for Humanity is not enough. Subscribing to Klan Watch is not enough. Voting is not enough. But I have no answers. No solutions. I can scream in rage or whisper in contemplation, but it doesn't solve anything. I've been quite an activist over the years, but some days I feel like giving up. I want to "Let Go and Let God."

While on a personal level this seems to work for me, sometimes, on a community level, with this "religious" approach, it feels as though I just condone oppression. (Organized religion has been known to do that.) At this point in my life (I'll be 56 in a couple of weeks), I think I believe in just living as lovingly as I possibly can--not saying or thinking bad things about people. I believe that any change has to come first in one's heart and then that heart has to touch another. One by one, two by two.

When I wrote the song "Nothing's Changed," I got lots of comments from my most liberal white friends--all crying out that things had indeed changed. They ennumerated lots of changes--especially in my life--mainly changes that involved my interactions with whites. I don't deny any of that. It's when I look at the bigger scope of things, when I look at the global color issue or the global poverty issue or the global imperalism issue or global women's rights issue that nothing's really changed. When I think about the child in the crack house who had access to a loaded gun--nothing's changed. When I think about a possible future president embracing the values of a group that does not permit interracial dating--nothing's changed. When I think about how homosexuals are the "new niggers"--nothing's changed. When I think about how 4 police officers shot at an innocent man 41 times and hit him 19 times--nothing's changed.

In contrast, it's strange indeed that most of my black friends have said that "Nothing's Changed" is their favorite song on "Bitter Sweet." In case you haven't heard this song or in case you want to see the lyrics, you'll find them below. I welcome your feedback--you can scream or you can whisper. Write me at P.O. Box 7142, Fredericksburg, VA 22404. Have I just become a pessimist? I find these to be very scary times. My peace has to come from within. At the moment, however, my heart aches.


Sit-ins and picket lines for civil rights
Dogs and water hoses, crosses burning in the night
It was down in Mississippi, Emmett Till was lynched
Now down in Texas, James Byrd was dragged and ditched
James Byrd, James Byrd a righteous name I know
Just change that James to Jim and the Byrd is still a Crow

Chorus -- Change, change nothing has changed (4x)

Washed and ironed all the white folks clothes
Nursed their babies, now she works in nursing homes
Had to be twice as good to get half a chance
Still fired first and hired last
They talk about a glass ceiling, but don't you know
She's down on her knees on a concrete floor


Landless against the landlord at home or abroad
Nothing's really changed for what it's worth
Got you coming, got you going--it's all based on greed
You rent-to-own and the interest makes you bleed
Used to buy from the master at the company story
Now call it master card--it'll keep the people poor

Chorus -- Change, change has it really changed? (4x)

How can I be angry?
There's been some change it's true
Too slowly in my lifetime, there's much more we can do
Anytime a child is hungry
Anytime there's homeless men
Anytime there is no doctor
And there is no medicine
Anytime there's ethnic cleansing
Anytime there's genocide
Anytime there is a hate crime
And freedom's been denied

Chorus -- Change, change--nothing's really changed (4x)

Anytime there is a war
And religious persecution
A Shepherd or Diallo
So called accidental shootings
Anytime there is a ghetto
Anytime a reservation
Anytime you meet up face to face
With discrimination
How can I be angy?
There's been some change, it's true
Too slowly in my lifetime
There's so much more to do
. . . . there's so much more to do
gotta make a change
gotta make a change now
one by one now
two by two now
gotta make a change. .