A virtual reality photo of an avatar walking through desolation with a photo of John Kennedy seconds before his assasination behine him

The Chant

It was third grade.

The intercom crackled as the Principle fumbled with the mike, and then he spoke.

He said that the President of the United States had just been shot, and he asked us to pray for him.

I closed my eyes and bowed my head.

I looked up when I heard snickers.

Some of the children passed notes.

The teacher sat at her desk and calmly read.

No one else was praying.

Ten minutes later the principle announced that the President was dead. He sent us home. School was closed.

We marched out of class and our teacher helped us board the buses.

She put me on a bus with kids from 7th grade.

Some of them were as old as 14.

The driver pulled out and once the bus cleared the schoolyard he raised his voice in a chant: “Yay! The n—– lover is dead! Yay! The n—– lover is dead!”

The kids picked up the chant: They stomped their feet and clapped their hands and sang: “Yay! The n—– lover is dead! Yay!”

I turned and watched out the window. The bus was slow. People came out of their houses and met with their neighbors. Some of them smiled. Some looked sad. Some laughed.

I had seen the President on TV.

He seemed like a nice man.

I felt sad.

A big kid grabbed me by the collar and asked me why I wasn’t chanting.

I was startled and didn’t answer.

“What’s wrong with you, boy? You a n—– lover?

The driver stopped for a red light. He said: “We ain’t keeping no n—– lovin’ babies on this bus! YOU A N—– LOVIN BABY?

The big kid shoved me back into the seat, two more joined him. He said: “You a n—— lover? Yes or no?

I didn’t answer.

I didn’t know what n—– lover was.

The words made no sense to me.

The kid that asked the question punched me hard in the stomach.

I saw that coming and ready and went numb.

I sat quietly and stared at the kid that punched me.

The kids grouped around me and repeated their chant as loud as they could. ”Yay!  the n—– lover is dead! Yay! THE N—– LOVER IS DEAD! YAY!

Another big kid took out a pack of Winston’s and lit one. He said he was going to burn the n—–lover outta me.

He held the lit cigarette to my face.  The boy behind him said: “Not the face, shithead! The arms!”

That was new.

I wasn’t prepared.

I felt the cigarette sear my arm.

I screamed and went blank.

I don’t remember anything after that.


“…In the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal… But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives, live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together”.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy June 10, 1963



11 thoughts on “The Chant

  1. I can’t imagine that reaction. I went to Catholic school. JFK was like a god. Everyone around me cried. Especially my mother. I’m so sorry anyone had to experience this kind of hatred.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think that we in the United States have ever really discussed the Civil Rights Movement for what it was: a battle in a stand-off between two very different perceptions of property, class and human rights.

      We won the battle, but not the war; which was redefined by the Confederacy as a war waged by a moral majority–except that morality is defined as serving a God who reigns as a feudal lord over his loyal peasants.

      It’s fascinating from an historical perspective.

      A part of the City of Charleston was still in rubble from the Civil War the day of Kennedy’s assassination.

      I remember playing hide and seek with my sister on weekdays. It was very dark and the cells still had shackles.

      We like to think that we can shove our evil aside, place it in a past where bad deeds vanish and have no ramifications.

      But that’s not how it works. Those children grew up to become soldiers for future battles.

      Think about all of people who support Kim Davis and all of their children who might be gay, who are learning how to hate, who spend
      their days listening to a news station that broadcast an alternate universe in which our government is a force of evil and is covertly planning to take over the State of Texas.

      Think about the fact that there are people who don’t know that the United States already owns Texas.

      It’s shocking. I think I need to lie down. I’ve boggled my own mind…:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting, Rob, I was going to ask where you were at the time, if in Charleston, it makes more sense to me now. I lived there as an adult for 4 years in the 90’s. Sadly, the attitude there has not progressed very far. We still have such a long way to go. Thanks for your thoughtful, provocative comment. Mind boggled…indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, it was in Charleston. I was always acutely aware of that the people thought of the Union as an ‘occupation’ and they viewed the enforcement of ‘federal’ law as ‘big government”. Essentially ‘big government’ is any government that attempts to guarantee the civil rights of the minority. Back then the ‘encroachment’ was the federal government’s determination to guarantee black children their right to attend school where they pleased.

        It’s such a sad and angry place. The woman, Kim Davis, seems to embody everything that was hateful about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. She is just one public name, now, Rob, what concerns me is how much support she is getting there..not much has changed in the hearts of so many. I felt the pressure constantly when we were the “Yankees” relocated to S.C. We lived in an upscale community, and I think there was genuine resentment, for that alone.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s a bizarre world where liberty means property rights and land entitlement, where there is no honor or shame, where God is jealous and cruel, where a win by cheating is still a win, where moral relativism is frowned on by men and women who never hold themselves or their leaders accountable for anything, where education is considered perverse and sinful, and where respect for the lives of other people ends at birth.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s still going on.

      I can guarantee you that some little boy had the crap beat out of him today because he is identified as a sissy which is any boy that likes to learn.

      You know what The Kim Davis show looks like to a gay man?

      It looks like fag bashing. She even looks like she’s high on it.

      Imagine the hell of all of the young gays and lesbians who must live in hiding because of parents like her.


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