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for all those on Death Row--past, present and future

Dreamed 1990/3/28 by Chris Wayan

I'm in a dance class, but we have a substitute today--a southern guy who clearly doesn't give a damn about dance and gets bossier and meaner... until he calls one of my classmates a nigger. I look up thinking he must have been joking, but he's not. I recognize his face, suddenly--he's the Governor! Why would a politician deliberately do that? He says it again, louder, and this time I see his look of pleasure at the shock and anger on the students' faces. He enjoys our discomfort.

Some of the dancers link arms and sing spirituals as if it's fifty years ago during the Civil Rights era. But I was a kid in the sixties and I raise my fist in the air and yell "Beat the governor! Throw out the governor!" I feel a certain responsibility as a shaman to nip these hate-crime movements in the bud, and this is definitely a bud sort of guy.

The Governor looks at us with cold amusement and waves an arm like a symphony conductor--or a general summoning reinforcements. And he is. A flood of athletic teams pours into the hall! That'll shut up us niggers and queers, dancers and artists...

And you know, it works. I'm lost in a crowd of sports nuts, yelling team slogans, and can't spot a single one of my classmates. Sports have drowned out art.

Now I'm really mad, and for the first time use my power of lucid dreaming. Sparingly, reluctantly, but I do use it: sweep and scull my hands like hummingbird wings, forward and back, harder, harder. The team players near me point and laugh--until my hand-wings work. I slowly rise up to the ceiling. Can see a mile or so to the north end of the dance hall, but there's no dance left, no creativity--just games. I can't go higher and see further: there's a low educational ceiling here, I'll bang my head on it.

So I swoop down to a door and out and go politician-hunting. Find an aide to the governor--his chief flunky in fact--and drag him into a kids' playground full of adults and ask him "Why are all these adults here?" He doesn't get it till he tries to leave and the guards stop him. I've popped him in prison! One of the new prisons for people the Gov doesn't like. Like niggers and artists and queers...

The guy looks appalled. I don't think he realized what his boss's flood of rednecks has meant. I just may be able to pry this guy loose from the Governor yet.

One at a time...


Pretty literal, except the Southern redneck governor is really California's: Deukmeijian. He's all for gassing a couple of hundred people on Death Row, an extraordinary proportion of whom are black. But then his supposedly liberal opponent, Dianne Feinstein, says she supports the death penalty too--like nearly every politician in America. Why not? Prisoners are all guilty. Worthless people.

You know. Niggers.

2001 NOTE

Ten years later, and the public is finally noticing that the death penalty is barbaric, useless, error-prone, irreversible, and openly racist. More and more voters reject executions.

But not, thank God, our staunchly pro-death politicians, including our current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Why, it's a matter of principle.

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