Fabu Carter

Resistance and Reimagination in the Health of African Americans

The racism associated to Black skins impairs the health of African Americans in the U.S. in small and large ways. What is scientific proof has been captured and expressed through these poems that will be presented during the African American Health Network panel.

The words are searing enough without photos of lynchings, rapes, forms of discrimination, and all of the other aggressions that far too many Black people face. Let the poems speak for themselves. If you want to see a book of lynching postcards, when Euro-Americans went to lynchings, took photographs, sold them, and circulated them all across America, then read the book, Without Sanctuary: Lynching photography in American by James Allen.

Click on the titles below to expand each poem. 

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by Fabu


One day
we be in village
livin n free
livin n free.

Next thin
come buckra slavers
carrin death
in long shiny chains.

Souls begin dyin
from first chains
pon we necks arms feets
we cry out for help
in many many tongues.

Buckra* starves n beats we
walks we walks
til feets be bleedin
walks we walk
to where we not know.

On ship
we rot n stink below
mens wimens chirens
mamas wid belly full of chile
all hate every rockin
dat take us far from home.

Sellin block
we no remember
small pain
agin de trip cross de ocean
we people piled high
in water graves.

Massa starves n beats we
works we works
til hands be bleedin
works we works
for why we not know.

Already hearts is dyin
from first chained feets
step pon dis land
dis ‘Merica.


*Buckra is an African word meaning white people.

Earliest Written Record of an Unknown Negro in Wisconsin

Earliest Written Record of an Unknown Negro in Wisconsin
by Fabu


In 1725
Green Bay, Wisconsin
an unknown negro
(though familiar to other negroes)
was killed.

In 1725
Green Bay, Wisconsin
an unnamed negro
(according to an Illinois chief)
had two enemies; French and Fox.

In 1725
Green Bay, Wisconsin
an unarmed negro
(believed to be enslaved)
fell pierced by arrows.

In 1725
Green Bay, Wisconsin
an unloved negro
(except by God)
Died too far from Africa.


One of the earliest records of African Americans in Wisconsin comes from a 1725 speech by a chief of the Illinois Indians.  In the speech, he reported that their enemies, the Fox, had killed four Frenchmen and “a negro belonging to Monsieur de Boisbriant” in Green Bay.  In this recorded account, negro is not capitalized but the Frenchman’s name is, indicating that this African American was deemed unworthy for a name to be included and race to be respected in State Historical Record.


by Fabu


Part I Slavery “The Rape of Little Sister”

Round baby fat rump
slightly tiltin towards de sky
little sister
was out back
kinda squat down
tee teein.

Long came Massa roundin de corner
shoulda turn back
cause sista’s butt was still in de air.
Stead he wait patiently
til she finish shakin herself dry
then he drap his pants
n ease up on her.
Lay down little sis
lay down n let me in
dont matta dat your ten
don’t matta dat youre kin.

Part II Reconstruction
“The Rape of Little Sister’s Daughter”

Mr. Mott came by last nite tole
Big Buck he had three day work for ‘im
three day work
turnin over de land
at de ole Lee plantation.

Mr. Mott came by de nex nite
throwed Big Buck’s wife down
on her Mama’s red quilt pallet
‘bused EmmaJean for hours
rite dere in front of her
screamin babies.

Mr. Mott came by anuther nite
Buck came back early too
ole Mr. Mott is dead
dey lynch Buck
put his manhood in a mason jar
ta save de South.

Part III Post Reconstruction
“The Rape of Little Sister’s Granddaughter”

Sadie struggle de black way
hard n long
ta go ta school.
Education will take ya far
in dis heah world
her ma say.

Furst one in de family
ta git much learnin.
Sadie teach colored
at de Normal school.
Lawd how she make us’es proud her grandma say.

Ah Sadie with her clever mind
n amber eyes
we live to see ouren
womenfolk risen
from de slave fields to de schoolhouses.

De principal, uh Boston carpetbagger
keeped her late one evening.
He had his way wid da po chile
on de schoolroom floor.

Raped grandma.
Raped ma.
Raped grandchile.
Sadie say They relieve themselves in us.
We just like the outhouse
To be shit in.

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Arriving Free in the Green Land

Arriving Free in the Green Land
by Fabu


When we came walking, feet sore, covered in slavery dust
masters’ whip and lash still throbbing hot across our scars troubling our minds, dimming our hopes we saw the green land and sighed.

Wagons carrying our sick, full of moaning darkness
aged, littles, mamas with sucking babes
escaped or freshly purchased
only this time purchased for family by family.

All of us looking for newness, we wondered where
the red ones had gone. Remains of native people forced away
from these abundant waters and stretched our lands
still called Ho-Chunk names.

Cousins paused then traveled on up to Canada
not trusting freedom within US borders
we distrusted too, but cracking bones begged for rest.
We fought snow and ice thinking long about
our family fighting snow and ice further north.

Languages spun like spinning wheels round our ears
from other poor white immigrants desperate
for farmland and freedom. We didn’t hear the dreaded
southern cracker voice, so we settled the green land.

Whether we looked back south or forward north
we had to anchor ourselves in the present
praying for a Midwest welcome that our color be hidden
inside hearts willing to accept we are people too.

Lament for YaYa

Lament for YaYa
Killed in a Drive-by Shooting
Chicago, 2020
by Fabu


Smiling on Facebook
I didn’t know you
but I love you.

Tiny teenage girl
I didn’t know you
but I was you.

In the family tangle
I didn’t know you
but I claim you.

Your dad a cousin
I didn’t know you
but you’re family too.

He died in Florida
I didn’t know you
but I miss you.

You died in Chicago
I didn’t know you
but I grieve you.

As you watched TV
I didn’t know you
but a bullet took you.

Thirteen years young
I didn’t know you
but I won’t forget you.

An Elder’s Lament During COVID

An Elder’s Lament During COVID
by Fabu


Protest this time
Without my body
Surely my heart goes with you.

Over 60
I am the victim of racism
Turned into health disparities.

My mind supports you
Without my weakening body
But with the fist of my words.

Over 60
COVID 19 kills me first
And wisdom must remain to speak.

As an elder
I’ll work to dismantle unjust systems
Political and otherwise.

As you take to the streets
Without my body
Carry me and our ancestors with you.

Fabu Carter

Fabu, as she is professionally known, is a poet, columnist, storyteller, and an educator who works and writes to encourage, inspire, and remind. As the Madison Poet Laureate (2008-2012), she continues to share experiences living in the South, the Midwest, and in Africa. As an outreach specialist for the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease and Research Center, she recruits African Americans into memory studies and facilitates free Get Movin’ Exercise Classes, a free computer class with DoIt and the Urban League of Greater Madison, and educational events for brain health. Fabu was selected as the 2019 recipient of the School of Medicine and Public Health Staff Award for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the 2019 award-winner from the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce for making her love of poetry into a business. She received the 2016 UW Madison Women of Color Award for her work in poetry and community. Poet Fabu is also a recent graduate with a PhD from the African Women’s Center at the University of Nairobi. She is a scholar of African American literature, and published four books of poetry: Poems, Dreams and Roses; In Our Own Tongues; Journey to Wisconsin:  African American Life in Haiku; and Love Poems.

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3 thoughts on “Fabu Carter”

  1. Dr. Fabu Carter’s poetry, is, as always, alive and true. I keep wanting to say that these poems are beautiful. That seems wrong because they portray such suffering and human degradation. But I do think they are beautiful because of their truth, and the dignity and life they give to the lived experiences of women. Reading this collection one can see that Fabu has spent time listening to voices from that past and present, from there and here, and then, with her own grounded and clear way of seeing, she tells it truly, and gets it right about who should feel shame, who deserves justice. Fabu’s poetry and scholarship add up to one wise women who can help us all to see past and present clearly, and reimagine the future.

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  3. Your poetry is so powerful and your participation on the panel where we could hear you read it made it doubly so. Thank you for continuing to share your create voice .

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