RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Tuesday, June 14

45s on 33 – #84: “Excusa”

Buckingham County, Southside Virginia, United States of America, Earth, is the county over from where I live now, and was the county over from where I grew up, but those two counties (where I live, and where I grew up) are opposite side counties, so I consider Buckingham the connector between the two longest habitation phases of my life. Buckingham is a county where slavery was practiced, and though it is not still slavery, the psychic recovery has not been as good as in other places. There is epic high unemployment rates among able-bodied, prime working aged men, and I use the term “unemployment” in the realistic way that makes sense, even though many of those not working are not counted because they have been not working for so long it no longer makes bureaucratic sense for some reason to continue including them in the count. I guess it’s a paperwork thing, or fabrication of numbers, or I don’t know. But the real world reality is that there’s a lot of people with not a lot of economic wealth, and they have piecemealed together existences for generations, and though many of these people have a helpful, good-natured, smiley, laid back “Simple Man” vibe to themselves, this is no excuse for the conditions they continue to live in.

I personally theorize there are geologic ties to this continued suffering, which may sound odd (as if anything in this entire Space Espanol talking jukebox in the field strung together tale didn’t feel illogical) as there are a couple of notable geologic scars to Buckingham. The most obvious is the kyanite mine all these tunnels me and Rey-Rey are inside of, because you can see that. But another one is the slate mines of the southern end along the James River, where at first Welsh immigrant (indentured) labor was used, and then slave labor, to pull slate from the earth. This is the same slate that was used for most original U.S. government buildings, in D.C., Philadelphia, so on, none of which are really considered “slave states” at this point in our fuzzy history, but those buildings seen as the good side were originally slated up with nice roofing rock pulled by slaves, in all likelihood. Those quarries still exist, and still offer that traditional quality “Buckingham Slate” at a premium price, more expensive because cheap labor is not as cheap as slave labor, though honestly if you look at the living conditions of your average manual laborer in Buckingham County (considered middle class, because of all the non-working), it’s not the good life we’d expect if we were looking at America: The Brochure.

A son of these slate quarry slaves was a dude named Carter G. Woodson, who went on to bigger and better places of renown, and Woodson was the singular man full court-pressing society for a Black History Week, which later grew into a Black History Month, which still exists. Buckingham just built a large new institutional-looking elementary school, and it was named after Carter Woodson. A majority of the kids who go to that school are hungry, and poor, and qualify for reduced or free lunches. When I say “majority”, I do not mean like 55% - we are talking nine out of ten kids. So as we make our modern progress, there is no excuse for people to continue to subsist in substandard psychic spaces, still being strip mined of all valuable resources, without sharing that wealth with surrounding community.

All this comes to mind, because as Rey-Rey and I hollered through the darkness at the person or people yelling about “railroad time!” at us in those underground tunnels, I – being a total nerd about reading local histories – realized that likely, though illogically, the people or person on the other side of the darkness may have been descended from runaway slaves from Arvonia, where the slate quarries were and still are, where Carter G. Woodson came from. As Rey-Rey did the talking with them (he was the talker, I was the thinker), I started to wonder even if perhaps these weren’t actual runaway slaves. If these tunnels connected to different realms and different times within those realms, it is conceivable a tunnel could connect to slave era slate quarries. And if those runaways had hid out in the tunnels this whole time, how did “real” time apply to them? Maybe they hadn’t aged. And what the fuck was “railroad time” about?

Lots of questions, not many answers. Welcome to my world (all of them).

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