We Wear The Mask—Paul Laurence Dunbar
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask! COVID-19: Pretend To Wear Your Masks Or Just Be Your Real Hypocritical Selves!
African-American poet-novelist Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote this piece in 1895. It is a reaction to the Black experience in late 19th-century America, following the Civil War, marked by intense racism and difficulties.
Surviving oppression was like wearing a mask to disguise the suffering of its wearer so that he could project a more "joyful face" to the world.
Mask is daily, for those who turn a blind eye to the suffering around them. Blacks are taking off their lifelong masks and demanding to be seen as human beings with human rights.
They are saying, "Off with the masks!"
Anti-Black supremacists have merely bright-painted their lifelong masks like the ostrich with its head in the sand, pretending not to see injustice. They are saying, "On with the masks!"
Nobody knows masks better than post-slavery slaves
following in the footsteps of their enslaved foreparents. Enslaved foreparents pretended to be stupid just to be overlooked by their oppressive masters. Those who could make out a few words pretended to be illiterate because betraying their abilities would incur wrath. But they were smart under the mask. When they sang, "Steal Away To Jesus," they were plotting, in the open, to run away under the shades of night.
Nobody wears masks better than post-slavery slaves following in the footsteps of their enslaved foreparents. They pretend to be stupid while being wise beyond perception. Their oppressors pretend to be blind, not knowing their blindness is as real as the darkness that engulfs them.
Masks are neither Black nor White. BUT THEY ARE WORN DIFFERENTLY. Some pretend to be wise but they are stupid. Others pretend to be stupid, but they are shrewd. We [ALL] wear the mask.