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My name ain’t strange fruit 

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FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY
FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY

This poem links slavery, the prison-industrial complex, police brutality, and anti-Blackness, from  resistance to the Black Lives Matter movement to lynchings. The imagery I provide depicts this cycle of historical anti-Blackness, anti-Black violence and exploitation, prison-slave labour, and government programs like financial aid. 

In depicting this cycle, I discuss the anger and feeling of entrapment when being silenced while speaking out in defence of Black life, of witnessing the cycle of anti-Blackness in motion, and the refusal to succumb to it. 

I narrate this poem in the first person, emphasizing the importance of the body carrying ancestry, memory, Black history, futurity, and community. First-person narrative provides an opportunity for an ethical and non-extractive reading of my piece, meaning that the audience has the means to position themselves within the context of the physical, mental, and historical impact of anti-Blackness. 

As such, this poem’s narrative undoubtedly reflects my existence as a Black person, but also encompasses many other Black folks’ experiences and existences. 


Content warning: this poem utilizes the n-word, includes graphic descriptions of violence.

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees 

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Ends up being what you feed on 

Cornrows and shackled feet 

Walking whistling cool rhythms and blues 

The same tunes you bump your blonde 

Locks to 

Cornrows and shackled feet shuffling down 

Cold corridors 

All so the white man sporting a toupée 

Can bask in his economic gain 

Mama 

My pain all goes to capitalistic gain 

So you’re telling me that the orange monster is gonna  

Extort my labour for the stupid swamp drain 

You’re telling me that that oompa loompa looking, executive order writing, grab em by the… 

Wait. Let me refrain 

When I look outside my window  

I don’t get no peace of mind 

Shit, when I look outside my window 

The only thing I can find  

Are those that vowed to protect and serve 

Are only here to threat and strike a nerve 

Cries on the street begging not to kill 

Apprehensive responses remind me 

That this society is ill 

I’m bloodthirsty for justice 

Waterboarded by corruption and destruction 

White men in hoods are the only thing that encompass 

Me, in my melanin in shackles 

I can’t break off 

Rusting metal shackles infecting my skin 

For 400 years 

Four hundred years, and these rusting metal shackles 

Embedded in my skin 

A part of me; shit, they gon be passed on  

To my next of kin 

Wrap it up tight in a nice little bow 

But oh no 

No child of mine will ever know what it feels like 

To have the same white boot on the  

Back of my neck 

The same white boot that forces me to live on 

Welfare checks

Four hundred years later and I’m rocking white nooses 

Instead of gold chains 

Lying in my daddy’s bloodstains 

House nigga, so I gotta wring out 

Twelve’s uniform  

With centuries-old Black blood down the 

Drain 

And my speech, 

My speech 

Try one more time to censor this blackbird’s 

Pretty little melody and watch 

As this blackbird incessantly sings the tunes that  

Make your white ears bleed 

Watch as this strange fruit becomes free 

From the branches that suck the air out 

My lungs 

This Black body will not be hung  

On the poplar tree 

This Black body will not be your feed 

Strange fruit ain’t about to be hung on  

The poplar tree