By Carl McRoy
Legendary boxing champ, “Iron” Mike Tyson, recently launched a new brand of snacks. “Mike Bites” are earlobe-shaped marijuana edibles with a bite missing from the ear –a painfully obvious reference to when he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear during a championship bout. The press releases didn’t provide information regarding Holyfield’s piece of the action, but Tyson surely owes him a cut of the profits.
It’s admirable that Holyfield has let bitegones be bygones and forgiven Tyson for his tantrum. Since they’ve been friends throughout the ensuing years, I can’t begrudge Iron Mike for the past. However, punny punchlines aside, this present enterprise is beyond nasty.
In Festival in Christendom, Walter Everett Hawkins poetically described how lynching victims were often dismembered by their murderers, who proudly took mutilated parts home with them as memorabilia:
They tore his flesh and broke his bones,
And laughed in triumph at his groans;
They chopped his fingers, clipped his ears
And passed them round as souvenirs.
They even displayed the mutilated body parts in store windows like trophies! Tyson probably didn’t have this history in mind when launching this product, but he owes it to himself and the rest of us living in what Mark Twain called “The United States of Lyncherdom” to be mindful of the allusions to strange fruit. Furthermore, we all owe it to ourselves to interrogate our choices of entertainment and business opportunities. What does it say about society that Mike can’t keep up with demand for his “Bites”?
The poem “Ganja Gummies” isn’t just about Mike’s latest venture – it is about us:
Gotta get Iron Mike’s marijuana munchies
Yeah chomp the champ’s earlobe gummies
Continue the cultural dumbdown mummies
Embalm yourselves neural numbdown nummies
What made Tyson and company think it’s cute
To glamorize and monetize eating strange fruit?
No time to wait for the crows to pluck
No time to wait for the wind to suck
Hurry before their consciences get struck
Mass produce chewiness and make that quick buck
They just passed a law against blood at the root
But we getting high while eating strange fruit?
We get enraged over the latest viral splatter
We flood the streets to make Black lives matter
We demand justice and not just online chatter
Will we undo it all just to make our pockets fatter?
Are we so desperate to make a little loot,
That we’ll pluck and suck our own strange fruit?
By Carl McRoy