1. Original Sin

From the recording Original Sin

This song is aimed at me, and people like me: white liberals coming to terms with their own complicity in a shameful system. Overt white supremacy and systemic racism exist on a continuum; lynchings and de facto segregation are different in degree but not in kind. Furthermore, you can hate the former while still taking part in the latter. America’s original sin is everywhere, in the very air we breathe. Only in acknowledging that can we atone and make restitution.


The left knee pressed into his neck. The face, a twisted sneer.
Sworn to serve and to protect. That won’t happen here.
George Floyd bound, on the ground. They steal his breath from him.
And the camera doesn’t lie: it’s murder, and a sin.

With tear gas and rubber bullets he takes a rebel stand.
Photo op outside a church, a bible in his hand.
With words like “thugs” and “criminals” he shows us just who he is:
a man devoid of virtue, a paragon of sin.

Red’s for the blood-soaked cotton fields. White’s for the hoods and sheets.
Blue’s for the nightsticks, guns and shields: “Law and Order” on American streets.
Red lines. White schools. Cool blue swimming pools. Lovely (if they let you in).
Know us by the flag we fly: the Colors of our sin.

There’s cops commiting murder and a president peddling hate.
We’ve got people thinking treason is a thing you celebrate.
And then there’s me: I walk these streets safe within my skin.
And you don’t have to like it for it to be a sin.

Granite faces, army bases, schools and cities,
all these places named for racists, tainted by the past.
Bronze and marble lose their sparkle, Founding Fathers
tilt and topple, tumble from their pedestals at last.

The monument that speaks to me is the Potomac, blue and wide,
with cherry blossoms on the breeze and clouds moving ‘cross the sky.
A river shows you who you can be and reminds you where you’ve been.
Toss in a stone. Reflect. Atone for our Original Sin.