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Aisa Blue – “Strange Fruit” (1 or 2 Session)

Much like the Post & Courier’s No Intermission series in Charleston, Columbia newspaper Free Times have been releasing live sessions featuring local artists during the pandemic, except they’ve done it in partnership with our friends at Scene SC. The most recent session was released on Friday, and it features Columbia artist, model, and poet Aisa Blue (a.k.a. Weird Blue) delivering a powerful reading of her poem “Strange Fruit” in front of the African American History Monument at the Statehouse in Columbia.

The monument stands around the corner from the statue of Benjamin Tillman, former South Carolina governor and senator and noted white supremacist who openly spoke and advocated against black Americans during his lifetime. It should go without saying that the statue of Ben Tillman should be taken town, but the larger question persists: Why the fuck is the statue there in the first place? It’s disgraceful that South Carolina and many other states have taken steps to glorify and preserve white supremacy, and it’s about damn time, in the year 2020, that we finally do something to dismantle it.

Anyway, the poem that Aisa reads in this video was inspired by the famous Billie Holiday song of the same name, and Aisa sings the opening lines from the song, which are about lynchings and the murder of black people, to introduce her poem about police brutality and systemic racism and oppression. By doing so Aisa is able to connect the dots between what is happening in our country today and our racist roots, and it makes for a chilling statement.

Watch below, and follow Aisa on Instagram @weird_blue.