Creative Writing

She Looks Like Me: Quips for Black Women in History

I decided to do a campaign on Facebook for Black History Month this Year and have just decided that I should share it in one place here. I pick a black woman to highlight each day and write a quip (in the form of poetry or rambling) about her or inspired by her.

Each of them look like me.


 

Day 1: Sally Hemings (Picture shown is not actually her but probably close to her image)

ImageThere once lived a little girl
With fair skin and chocolate swirls
And pretty features that beckoned him
To dive into the swirls and swim
Swim and swim he did until
Her growing belly did reveal
That into her quarters at night he crept
And out by morning while she slept
Five more times that belly did grow
Inside the walls of Monticello
Some say it’s merely conjecture
Conceivably so
Only Sally and Mr. President know

 


 

Image

Day 2: Lilith and Sethe

Both are fictional characters in books that I love. Lilith is from Marlon James’ “The Book of Night Women” and Sethe is from Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”. Needless to say, neither of the pictures shown are of Lilith or Sethe.
Your characters speak to me
She calls my name and I hear
Her fear
Her anguish
Her triumph
However dashing
Or lasting
I could be you
In a different time and space
A different face
More like my own
And grown
A heart like yours
More hardened than before
An understanding makes me weep for you
Despise those who make your heart break
Unabashedly hate
Your fictional enemies
And make be wonder
If your author knows my name
Or that we’re the same
At the end you forgive
Or care more to live
Without or despite your life’s hurt
It must be this way
I’m sure of it
Because you live like me
In a mind that’s free

ImageDay 3: Audre Lourde and Kimberle’ Crenshaw
Some things I think about: I’m much more black than anything else.
I mean my blackness outweighs my other traits I think.
If somebody asked me which category I identified with the most I’d have to say race.
So I’m black.
My gender is paramount to who I am as well.
So I’m a black woman.
My faith also takes up a big bulk.
I’m a black Christian woman.
I’m attracted to men. *glances down at phone with picture of my (just boy friend) boyfriend* Especially that one.
I’m a straight black Christian woman.
And I’m relatively young.
That makes me a young-ish, straight black Christian woman.
Every single one of my interactions with other people are first based on the way they respond to my race and gender (bc it’s the most obvious) and everything else falls after that. Kimberle’ Crenshaw gave my thoughts a name: intersectionalism. Before Crenshaw gave it a name, however, the idea of multiple, marginalized identities had been championed by many including Audre Lorde (self proclaimed black, lesbian, feminist, mother and poet warrior).

Image
Day 4: Waris Dirie
She’s such a pretty girl, they say
And cut away
As is the tradition
They say she’ll be a bride in time
In her prime
At just thirteen
She runs from that life to another
Graces magazine covers
But she does not forget
The things that happen in her homeland
To a woman
And I won’t forget either, dear Waris

Day 5: Phillis Wheatley
Image
Who controlled the words you wrote?
Who’d you have in mind?
Or did you play the game they taught
To publish all your lines

leontyne-priceDay 6: Leontyne Price
Birds and all singing creatures cease
Open mouths shut
Eyes close and fingers stop their toiling
To heighten the sense of hearing
When up from her belly
Through a tunnel for breathing
Rings out the soprano
That penetrates to the core of us
The language is foreign
But the emotion familiar
Reminding us of love lost
Or battle won
When she ends
Monotony begins
Hands and mouths and eyes at work
Wishing she would start again

 Day 7 (such a special number!): The Black Mother

images-17Sit like a lady
Coddle that baby
Watch your mouth, girl
Those were my grandmother’s pearls
Stand up straight
Fix your face
Lord, I’m tired
Your daddy got fired
Make more room
Be back soon
Don’t sell my child!
Master be vile
My load is heavy
I’ll come when I’m ready
I brought you in, I’ll take you out
Lord, My Savior!, I shout
I’ll kill for my son
Come back when you’re done
Don’t sass me now
Or burrow your brow
My love endures past this life
Past strife
Through the walls of jail
Through whatever hell


Day 8: Angela Davis

1779883_10101069419985636_527531201_nShe studied before she spoke
She Wrote
She MusedAbsorbed the writers of philosophy
Deepened animosity
Deepened understanding

Then settled on her truth
Became Resolute
Became convicted

Hidden in truth lied inequality
Without apology
Without consequence

And so she challenged it
Was spirited
Was unafraid

Afro and intellect in hand
Many misunderstand
Many misjudge

Added her to a list
With misfits
With terrorists

She was just a nonconformist
In earnest
In principle


I took a little hiatus for about a week. The kid is lazy. Whatever.

Day 15: Mamie Clark (and her husband, Kenneth, too)
1898288_10101077765416326_946255908_nKenneth and Mamie Clark were psychologists who conducted studies about children’s perspective of race that were ultimately used in Brown v. Board of Education and proved the (pretty obvious) negative effects of segregation on black and white children’s views of one another. Because of Mamie and Kenneth, I plan to tell my little brown babies (if ever I have some) these things:
Hey little angel
You’re the smartest person I ever met
The prettiest thing I ever did see
Your voice is like cymbals and trumpets
And you dance like the wind
I could make a pillow of your hair
Fill up on the sweetness of your eyes
Solve the mysteries of the world with your cleverness
Float up to heaven on the sound of your laughter
Your smile could melt the arctic
The dedication you’ve shown to multiplication amazes me
I am moved to tears when you write your name in cursive
Your kindness inspires me
Is there anyone else in the world as special as you?Now go clean your room and brush your teeth before bed.


12387_10101079175864776_224625406_nDay 16: Marian Wright Edelman

What will you do?

There are injustices in our world. Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough to address them.

Then I remember, I can’t right every wrong. I can’t take on the whole world. But I can do something. I’ve decided to be an active part of a social justice movement in my career and hobbies.

Today I am inspired by Marian Wright Edelman, the first African American female to be admitted to the Mississippi bar and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. Among other things, Ms. Edelman recognized the injustices confronting low-income, minority, and disabled children. And what did she do? She founded the Children’s Defense Fund and continues to advocate on behalf of this population.

What will you do?


1460979_10101080838018806_1047339051_nDay 17: Susan L. Taylor

Rise up, young girl
Conquer the world
Work when you’re tired
Go a little higher
If you want to stop
What you have is all you got
And it ain’t enough
Ain’t it tough?
We told you it would be
Did you read our story?
Do you know your past?
The ones who came before you built this rocky road
So you were told
And now you must pave over the rocks
Make the way a little smoother
The hot places cooler
The unreachable little crevices a breeze
The next girl will do it with ease
Because your work now makes the road wider
Dreams brighter
Provides accessibility
Makes it relatively
Simple to be great


1925179_10101081840145536_791635378_nDay 18: Toni Morrison (and happy birthday to her!!)

If I could capture what you sum up in a few lines
Or evoke tears with a pen
If I could type out anger on paper
And love onto my writing pad
How do you write frustration?
And distinguish it from annoyance?
Or fatigue?
Are your words so vast?
So different from mine?
I read and feel just what you wanted
You get me
Whom will I get?


1926694_10101083040335346_1351452047_n

Day 19: Vashti Murphy McKenzie

 

Through the nights that creep on
When even faint sounds speed the rhythm of my heart
When my eyes can’t see past the void of light
When panic freezes my limbs
And I don’t dare move or even breathe
I am comforted by the thought of your unmatchable power

On mornings that I am stony and cold
When I am purposefully unaware of another’s emotion
When I am not callous but stoic
When I am too battered to be moved
And scared to care
I am softened with a passing thought of your unwavering devotion

Oh father, how can I express my most inward thoughts?
When my eyes swell and tears fall
When I wail out from the place beneath my lungs
When I stand still
And see you in trees and flowers and gusts of wind
I am shrunken by your immense being

God of Gods
Ruler of every nation and people
There is none greater
I am nothing
I am saved because you are everything


Ok and then I gave up for the rest of the month. No judging.

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I'm Mariah. Jesus is my homie. I live in (and was raised in) the south. I am, as often as possible, actively grateful for my family because I understand their life giving power. Really dislike melodramatics. Really love reading and writing so much so that I aspire to be an author. What else?

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