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
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.