The Great Pax Whitie

By Nikki Giovanni b. 1943 Nikki Giovanni
In the beginning was the word
And the word was
Death
And the word was nigger
And the word was death to all niggers   
And the word was death to all life   
And the word was death to all
   peace be still

The genesis was life   
The genesis was death   
In the genesis of death   
Was the genesis of war
   be still peace be still

In the name of peace   
They waged the wars   
   ain’t they got no shame

In the name of peace
Lot’s wife is now a product of the Morton company   
   nah, they ain’t got no shame

Noah packing his wife and kiddies up for a holiday   
row row row your boat
But why’d you leave the unicorns, noah
Huh? why’d you leave them
While our Black Madonna stood there
Eighteen feet high holding Him in her arms   
Listening to the rumblings of peace
    be still be still

CAN I GET A WITNESS? WITNESS? WITNESS?
He wanted to know
And peter only asked who is that dude?
Who is that Black dude?
Looks like a troublemaker to me
And the foundations of the mighty mighty         
Ro Man Cat holic church were laid

   hallelujah Jesus
   nah, they ain’t got no shame

Cause they killed the Carthaginians   
in the great appian way
And they killed the Moors
“to civilize a nation”
And they just killed the earth
And blew out the sun
In the name of a god
Whose genesis was white
And war wooed god
And america was born
Where war became peace
And genocide patriotism
And honor is a happy slave
cause all god’s chillun need rhythm
And glory hallelujah why can’t peace
   be still

The great emancipator was a bigot   
   ain’t they got no shame
And making the world safe for democracy
Were twenty millon slaves
   nah, they ain’t got no shame

And they barbecued six million
To raise the price of beef
And crossed the 38th parallel
To control the price of rice
   ain’t we never gonna see the light

And champagne was shipped out of the East   
While kosher pork was introduced
To Africa
   Only the torch can show the way

In the beginning was the deed   
And the deed was death

And the honkies are getting confused   
   peace be still

So the great white prince
Was shot like a nigger in texas
And our Black shining prince was murdered   
like that thug in his cathedral
While our nigger in memphis
was shot like their prince in dallas
And my lord
ain’t we never gonna see the light
The rumblings of this peace must be stilled   
   be stilled be still

ahh Black people   
ain’t we got no pride?

Nikki Giovanni, “The Great Pax Whitie” from Black Feeling, Black Talk, Black Judgment. Copyright © 1968, 1970 by Nikki Giovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni (2003)

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Poet Nikki Giovanni b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects War & Conflict, Race & Ethnicity, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Religion, Class

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Nikki  Giovanni

Biography

Nikki Giovanni is one of the best-known African-American poets who reached prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her unique and insightful poetry testifies to her own evolving awareness and experiences: from child to young woman, from naive college freshman to seasoned civil rights activist, from daughter to mother. Frequently anthologized, Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride and respect for family. Her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Race & Ethnicity, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Religion, Class

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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