My People

My mother always said that the type of labor you have

shapes the personality of the child you birth.

Mine was long, loud and painful

my brothers was easy, short and quiet.

Im intense and loud and my brother sometimes fades into the background

but we are all complicated

and I often want to tear down the walls he builds with his soft voice and nervous laughter

intense eyes forever marked by things he was never suppose to see

Things neither one of us were suppose to see.

We don’t talk about it

like most people who turn their backs away from things they know aren’t right.

Easier that way I suppose

‘mind ya business’ is what is often said.

I found that to be immoral as a child, but who can blame them

We all live in this world where violence and oppression is naturalized

We are taught to turn our backs against each other

not knowing that our love and compassion is the solution

or at least should be the inspiration for revolution

if we can get there.

 

So I made art

because sometimes you have to create something to keep yourself from dying.

That is what my mother did

Worked till she could no longer stand

but it was the back breaking labor and the four children she brought into this world

that made her life matter

her life imparted into other life

A purpose.

Her life in me

her mothers life in me

her grandmothers life in me.

Labor shapes the child but so do the conditions that brought her into this world.

I am kept up late at night with visions of stolen lands, slave ships, whips and mothers tears.

I carry the pain and trauma of my ancestors

and also the wisdom it brings to free ourselves from the chains

that slice through our wrists on plantation fields

in backseats of police cars

the chains that come in the form of the paycheck

that is never quite enough.

 

I carry visions for my people

walking in the footsteps of Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Frida Kahlo, Zora Neal Hurston

and countless others

who are kept up late with thoughts from the past

thoughts for the future

thoughts for liberation

The people must be free.


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