For Michelangelo and Makiah

I can hear them

From the first words I read

Laughter high and smiles wide

Weaving in and out of what they

believe are safe streets


And in the last seconds

of hugs and kisses you don’t

know are the last you’ll ever give

Are the same seconds it takes

for someone to end the

laughter and make wide smiles

turn to the all to familiar screams of


The seconds it takes to cowardly

drag bodies along a road in a useless


Leaving another mother to bury her babies

Another mother to look into haunting

open eyes that hold a short lifetime

of black lives that did not matter

Except to those who will bury them

with heavy hearts and searching minds

And those who hear their screams echo

Long after reading the last lines of the report


The Confederate Flag and Me

My piece on my own personal encounters with the Confederate flag and why it’s time to take it down


Perhaps it was a bad sign of things to come, a warning of sorts. It was Monday night and I was dancing, eating, and drinking the night away at a lavish (at least by American university standards) May Ball for my Cambridge college when my friends and I giggled our way to the photo booth. As we got ready to enter the photo booth, our friends in front of us were yelling about one of the background settings: a Confederate flag. I was so shocked by the presence of a symbol that had terrorised me in various ways throughout my life, that I grabbed the closest thing to a police officer’s hat, and tried to get one of my friends to wear it. I insisted that with me in the photo we could capture a good shot, but my attempts to reclaim the space were met with horror from her…

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(Insert Assault on Black Lives) (Insert Year)

“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country”

I read these words and my palms become dirty and calloused

from the hands of those who tried to hold fast to red dirt

in our native countries, clawing to hold on dreams and lives

that can now be found at the bottom of the Atlantic

What to the Negro is the Fourth of July?

We have been standing on foreign soil

That we have tried for years to mix with red dirt palm prints

Yet all it has done is swirl and swirl and swirl

And if Alice was right and land belongs to those

who have buried bodies on it

Then this indeed is our home too–even more

because it was built on our backs and the sweat from our brows

One life–millions of lives, for a country we aren’t allowed to call home

“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country”

I read these words and my womb contracts and bleeds

with the inherited memory of the ‘massa’s touch’

on young flesh as beautiful black bodies

are made ugly by the touch of power and lust for the ‘exotic’

You took her body and made it your own and


Her legacy

Her pride and joy, who still is branded second-class by ‘feminism’

Rejected in sisterhood and made monsters in bikinis by age 14

We have carried the lifeblood of our murderers and our rapists

With just one life to live, it has never been for ourselves

I was raised in a house of prayer

We join hands and ask God that where two or three

are gathered, He will answer our prayers

But I don’t know quite what to pray for

When those invited into spaces of worship

Reign blood baths down on bowed heads and bent knees

And I think of little girls in white dresses in Birmingham streets

Where are we safe?

I am murdered in streets

In churches

On front porches

In my own house

While holding candy

While just trying to breathe

Where can blackness survive?

And when can it not just survive, but thrive, and be FREE?

I lay my body down to try and claim the spaces

that I am not allowed to inhabit

And I am walked over

trampled to the margins

I walk into a room

and you feel uncomfortable

I speak my truth and you silence my life

I am weary

The unwanted becomes the annihilated 

Black is strength. Black is love. Black is beauty. Black is spiritual. Black is power. Black is aware. Black is…

As my mantra gets longer, so does the time it takes to convince myself that anyone is listening.

Some days I don’t know if I’ve really survived

My heart barely feels like it’s beating

“Oh, There Must Be Something in the Water”

They said come down to the water

You can bathe in the cool drops of the water

Water that washes away all the uncleanliness and sin

But there is a sin of being in these parts

Those who the call to join in the water

Was not a real invitation

Not a real welcoming

As black and brown bodies are stains

in the eyes of those who believe that

water only washes to whiteness

And black and brown bodies cannot be cleaned

They do not have the ability to be scrubbed clean

And when placed in the water, whitness fears–

It fears the muddying of clear waters

Because if I, and my brothers and sisters

Were to dive inside the vastness of the water

We would float along on our backs

Watching as the water dispersed and rippled around us

Beautiful, bold, dark glimpses of hope

As we cut our way through its depth

And there would be something in the water–

The crystal clear, deep reminder

That blackness survives

No matter how hard you try to wash it away