Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mickey Mouse in Black 'n' White

There were dogs, and then there were dogs, I guess,
I don't know. Back then I didn't think about it
that much. Goofy was my friend, Pluto was my dog.
It was just how the world was. It was the 1930s.

America was in the toilet of the Great Depression,
and you were grateful if you were lucky enough
to be working. There were a lot of things back then
we never questioned. I wore pants. Donald didn't.

Minnie had a full dress with panties and shoes;
and Daisy made do with the feathers God gave her.
Goofy lived in a house, and Pluto was chained
outside. I want to say I knew something was wrong

in my cartoon heart, but I didn't ever have words
for it, even when the Talkies came. We didn't
stop to think, didn't consider the implications
of Donald carving the Thanksgiving bird, or why

everybody was drawn in such broad, narrow strokes.
I'm sure Walt meant "Song of the South" as a compliment
to the Colored, like "Hey! The Reconstruction, right?
Not so bad, and wow! Do you have magical stories!

And, oh those singing voices!" Of course Walt was racist.
Everyone was back then, just Walt was worse than most.
We Toons were hungry for success. The only tune we heard
was what put food on the table. I just drove the steamboat,

I didn't want to rock it. But in my dreams, I ask Walt,
"If you wanted us to live in a brightly- colored world,
why wouldn't you hire Black people? But the only color
I worried about back then was the green of the money,

and how best to keep clean my white, white hands.

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