Whitey’s on the Moon – Gil Scott Heron

Gil was a genius. He put his poetry to music and was a precursor of rap. He articulated the thoughts of black America.

This poem opens up discussion about the huge gaping inequalities that exist. It poses many questions:

Should we be spending trillions on projects such as this, landing on the moon, while so many billions live in abject poverty?

How can a country as rich as America have so many people living in squalor?

Is this situation just plain racism?

The poem highlights it for me.

“Whitey On The Moon”

A rat done bit my sister Nell
With Whitey on the moon
Her face and arms began to swell
And Whitey’s on the moon

I can’t pay no doctor bills
But Whitey’s on the moon
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still
While Whitey’s on the moon

You know, the man just upped my rent last night
Cause Whitey’s on the moon
No hot water, no toilets, no lights
But Whitey’s on the moon

I wonder why he’s uppin’ me?
Cause Whitey’s on the moon?
Well i was already given him fifty a week
And now Whitey’s on the moon

Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies make me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin up
And if all that crap wasn’t enough
A rat done bit my sister nell
With Whitey on the moon

Her face and arms began to swell
And Whitey’s on the moon

With all that money i made last year
For Whitey on the moon
How come I ain’t got no money here?
Hmm, Whitey’s on the moon

You know I just about had my fill
Of Whitey on the moon
I think I’ll send these doctor bills
airmail special
(To Whitey on the moon)

11 thoughts on “Whitey’s on the Moon – Gil Scott Heron

  1. Opher, At last! Well done, now you have used the word Racism in exactly the correct context. Do keep that up as you have no idea just how much this pleases me.

    Why the need to qualify that GSH was the precursor of rap? Who cares about rap? That absolutely undermines GSH’s art by a lot. Most of these rap people were kids who hadn’t a jot of talent compared to him.
    In fact he played Jazz Rap, which is an entirely different ball game, and it should be said that GSH wasn’t the first to produce it.
    It’s also slightly disappointing to note that you have omitted to even mention the music man for GSH’s lyrics, namely Brian Jackson, pianist and music director. Without BJ, you ain’t got what you hear. Simples.
    He was brilliant from the off and I own every one of his 15 studio albums and a bunch of other compilations and live albums. Some are signed by him when I met him on tour in UK in June 1985.

  2. I like your intellectual style your way of publishing will follow you and I hope you can also enjoy my website based on anarchy and the social revolution, the intellectual evolution and everything related to the world punk

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