an afterword to black fire:
an anthology of afro-american writing

...Just then the captain said, "Shine, Shine, save poor me
I'll give you more money than a nigger ever see."
Shine said to the Captain:"Money is good on land and on sea
but the money on land is the money for me."
And Shine swam on...
Then the Captain's lily white daughter come up on the deck,
She had her hands on her pussy and her dress around her neck.
She say, "Shine, Shine, save poor me,
I'll give you more pussy than a nigger ever see."
Shine, he say, "There's pussy on land and pussy on sea,
but the pussy on land is the pussy for me."
And Shine swam on...

The quote is taken from an urban "toast" called the Titanic. It is part of the private mythology of Black America. Its symbolism is direct and profound. Shine is US. We have been below-deck stoking the ship's furnaces. Now the ship is sinking, but where will we swim?

We don't have all of the answers, but have attempted through the artistic and political work presented here, to confront our problems from what must be called a radical perspective. Therefore, most of the book can be read as if it were a critical re-examination of Western political, social and artistic values. It can be read also as a rejection of anything that we feel is detrimental to our people. And it is almost axiomatic that most of what the West considers important endangers the more humane world we feel ours should be.

Larry Neal