Rising above

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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

Bending

Picking

Filling

Emptying

Arranging

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.

—–

Nice!

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

Yet

We rose above

 

It wasn’t all bad

The songs

The dances

That we owned

We entertained ourselves

Hoping

Wishing

Praying

Believing

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

Yes!

We had risen above

 

There was no pyramid

We were peers

Fear no longer ruled us

No restraints

No incarcerations

No limitations

No restrictions

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.

 

Green fields

Tall grass

Fresh fruits

Watching the sunrise

Without fear of getting whipped

Walking slowly

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

 

I rise

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

 

You see

The only white I know is the snow

Beautiful frozen crystal balls

Falling in layers in winter

 

And black

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

Rising above

 

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.

———

 

Originally published on my blog

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