Toomer’s poem, “Portrait in Georgia” implicates an overall American complicity in the killing of black individuals in the south.
Hair :red_cross: braided chestnut,
coiled like a lyncher’s rope,
Eyes :red_cross: fagots,
Lips :red_cross: old scars, or the first red blisters,
Breath :red_cross: the last sweet scent of cane,
And her slim body, :red_cross: white as the ash
of black flesh after flame.
I think the poem’s form speaks to the idea that the individual being lynched is easily interchangeable. I read it as the left side representing the way in which white individuals at the time only viewed the individual being lynched as a body. A person with: hair, eyes, lips, etc. However, the right side of the poem is the detail noticed by black Americans. African Americans are those who notice the intricacies of the scene because they are the only ones who care to really look. Or, they are discretely aware because they are individuals who are at risk of falling victim to this heinous societal act. Toomer doesn’t allow the reader to ignore the horror of the scene in the way that the lynchers, or the people I feel are represented on the left side of the poem, try to do.