A poem that describes the struggle of Black people in the past...and their freedom, their present!
I enjoyed having my grandchildren around. They made me realise how much life was worth living.
‘Come Nana, tell us a story.’
I smile to myself… These children, always wanting to hear stories. Every night we hurdle around the burning wood flame, beneath the stars, chewing on roasted peanuts. Me – drinking freshly squeezed juice, all three of them sipping on cold fizzy drinks.
‘Tell us a story from when you were little… Please Nana. What was it like when you were a little girl’?
I succumb to their plea. How could I not? Their precious eyes begging… Such beautiful brown eyes glistening just like the stars.
There was a time where all I could see was white
Rows and rows of cotton
Over and over and over
Awake we were as soon as the first ray of sunlight struck… And toiled away we did until the moon bade the sun farewell. Those who were thought to be too pretty to work the fields were made to work indoors.
‘Nana, that must have been nice. Being indoors in the shade.’
I chuckled to myself.
A feeling we never had the pleasure of having
Our bodies were taken – piece by piece
Our souls ripped with every grabbing
We were their zombies
Them, our jinn
Noses turned up, ever so snobby
We were never allowed to look above their chin
We rose above
It wasn’t all bad
That we owned
We entertained ourselves
One day it would end
I could see them gasp!
‘Oh how horrible Nana!!! How very terrible!!! Did it end?’
Ended it did
After decades of pain
Our backs no longer bended
Our freedom, our gain
Now we knew what it meant
To be seen, to be heard
The flowers suddenly had a new scent
Finally, we could enjoy the chirping of the birds
We had risen above
There was no pyramid
We were peers
Fear no longer ruled us
They were all gone
Now we had choices
Now we were liberated
“Go on Nana… go on…”
I signalled with my hands, telling them to calm down. Taking a deep breath, trying not to shed that lone tear as all the memories came rushing back.
Eventually some of us summoned the courage to move on. We stopped being in groups. It reminded us too much of when we were bound together with chains and shackles, shuffling in baby steps, breathing down each others necks.
When I had saved up enough money, I moved to the country side… it reminded me of heaven – my heaven, my dream haven – the one I had dreamt about for many nights on end.
Watching the sunrise
Without fear of getting whipped
Getting lost in time
In my own thoughts
Doing my own things
At my own pace
Then one day, a lady walked up to me and asked ‘What is it like to live in a place dominated by people different from you?’
“Did that upset you Nana? Were you cross?”
“Children… don’t interrupt me… let me finish.”
I handed them more peanuts. That should keep their mouths busy. Such inquisitive grandchildren.
It did not upset me. I did not get cross. The fault was not hers. She had been brought up in a time where black and white could not mix… So, I said to her
Today I rise above
Above your misconceptions
I rise above
Above the color of my skin
For people have struggled so I can be free
My worth I know
And so should you
I rise above
For when I look at you and me
I do not see black or white
I see a person
A person who is capable
A person who is able
You and I are the same
Eyes, ears, arms, legs
The only white I know is the snow
Beautiful frozen crystal balls
Falling in layers in winter
The only black I acknowledge
Is the ink in my pen
The one I use to write down my thoughts
I lived in an era where great people were born
1913, Rosa Parks
1925, Malcolm X
1929, Martin Luther King Jr
Their struggle made way to my freedom
A freedom that led to a day
Where I can stand tall, rise above
And walk with no fear of ever being different
I have lived
I have risen
I am still rising
You and I are the same
So hold my hand
Walk by my side
For you and I are the same
“That was such a lovely reply Nana”…
I smiled as I could see them yawning.
“Come on now my darlings, off to bed you go!”
I smiled to myself. How glad I was that they had been born in a time where we were all the same.