I learned from their documentary on Netflix that this started as a poem written by Tionne “T-Boz.”
Good Day Freedom Readers!
My Soul is a Witness is LIVE.
My Soul is a Witness, a collection of poems that reminds us that there is still hope in our darkest moments. Nothing we go through is without a purpose. No pain we suffer, and no trial we experience happens without reason. It all ministers to our education and the development of ourselves into the people we are ordained to become. It helps to cultivate in us a spirit of patience, faith, humility, and self-control.
Be safe and enjoy your week!!
I’ve been working on this collection of poetry since I released I am Soul three years ago. So much as happened in that time that most of this year feels like it happened years ago. It feels like Kobe Bryant died in 2019, but then I remember that tragedy happened earlier this year. I have to remind myself that Kobe’s death is how we opened the year!
It feels like I went to Spain for the first time last year, and then I realize that it was just this past February.
Sometimes, it feels like Friday, and then I remember it is only Tuesday. I find myself looking at the calendar more just to remind myself what day it is.
This is 2020.
The most significant change is the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually, we focus on our individual struggles, trials, and tribulations, so it’s funny to think about the world around us being just as chaotic as our internal struggles. As if a global, deadly virus isn’t enough, the rest of the world is just as upside down.
Black men and women continue to be gunned down in the streets. Historical monuments are being demolished as people awaken to the truth of its origin. The traditional school experience for our babies is all but gone. Sports games do not have an audience.
Oh, and we are all walking around wearing masks and shaming people for not being “productive,” enough during a pandemic.
*Queue George Orwell’s 1984*
We are eight months into 2020, and I sense we haven’t seen anything yet.
But there is always hope.
There is no better time than to release this collection amid such a revolutionary era. Revolution only means change, and while most of the changes we’ve seen have been negative, there is a lot of good happening too. The good is harder to see because hope doesn’t make the news, but like the wind, it is there. I had my first school visit this year, where I spoke to 15 ELA classes about writing. I also had my first keynote invite and welcome this year by the Queenz Circle of ATL Bookclub before the pandemic took away the freedom of face-to-face events.
A lot has happened this year not just for me but also for you, so here’s what I’ve learned.
I’ve learned nothing we go through is without a purpose. No pain we suffer and no trial we experience happens without reason. It all ministers to our education and the development of ourselves into the people Yah ordained us to be. It helps to cultivate in us a spirit of patience, faith, humility, and self-control.
I hope these poems are a reminder that in our darkest moments, there is still hope. And I hope this collection will invigorate and renew your soul.
I am excited to share this with you!
My Soul is a Witness ❤️
Do not set out to write a poem. Strip yourself of all the education you think will make you a good writer, and undress all the fluff you believe constitutes a good poem. Write only what is in your heart at this exact moment—every thread of thought and every emotion you have not the courage to feel out loud. Write this. That thing you are afraid to say. Write that. Approach the page vulnerable. Come open. Come raw. Come wounded or come healed, but come bared of what you think poetry is and become the poem instead. Write accurately and precisely every sentiment you have bottled up inside. In writing what is in the most sacred part of your being, and the most intense sections of your soul, you may unintentionally stumble on something beautifully authentic.
You may even call it a poem.
Handsome does not conjure the strength succulent enough
to uncover the sun underneath his skin.
Shame on those who sexualize him.
Who sees his body as cheap and public.
Who does he think he is, being darker than a brown paper bag?
Sometimes they notice him
like the sun swinging in the sky
and still, he is only handsome for a dark-skinned guy.
They do not know that he is the color of the gods.
I will describe him the intensity of ebony
a precious rarity.
How’d he get so lucky?
Who bathed him in sunlight?
This black hardwood-colored flesh.
He is black keys on a piano.
Play a song for me.
Whisper truth through lips thick and sensual
remarkably soft and pliable.
This espresso-colored body.
Dangerous when diluted.
Potent when raw.
They do not know any better.
How do you greet someone so breathtakingly gorgeous?
It will take them a minute to get used to the truth.
That not even the bite of winter can dare diminish
“I am very worried about the state of the civilization which produced that photograph of the white cop standing on that Negro woman’s neck in Birmingham in 1963.”
– Lorraine Hansberry
Fifty years from now, when you do not see protests on the news,
sixty years from now, when George Floyd’s blood has dried up,
and Ahmaud Arbery is nothing more than a Google search,
when you no longer see your brothers and sisters marching and protesting in the streets for justice,
forty years from now, when there are no more hashtags
on which to hang your consciousness
and no Instagram to snapshot the revolution
when “black,” is no longer “trending”
will there be a fire next time?
When the news goes back to its regularly scheduled program
and the American flag is still soaked with the blood of the saints
their memory etched into the concrete we walk on
who will walk on?
When the history books forget to mention Breonna Taylor’s name, will we?
Did you know there were five little girls injured during the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963?
Did you know that the fifth little girl, Sarah Collins Rudolph, lived?
twenty years from now, whose legacy lives?
Who will Emmett Till Trayvon Martin’s memory?
When America’s anger sizzles into complacency
will there be a fire next time?
“History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” – James Baldwin
They treated them like The Black Plague.
This walking pestilence ravaging the Earth.
Walking all proud-like and powerful
all royalty-like and purposeful
infecting generations of people with its culture, music, dance, and cornrolls.
This was a virus that needed to be controlled.
They could not have this thing infecting people with all this hope.
COVID-19 is terrifying, but empowering the people was worse
so, the powers that be raised their glasses, smiled and solidified the oath.
The first phase was overt
strip them of their names, rape their wives, and remove their clothes.
Next, shackle them together and dismantle their dignity.
The vaccination was so far working.
They became Mammies instead of Mothers
and Negroes instead of Kings.
But the Black Plague continued to spread
continued to influence
and shift the direction of the Earth
there was no restraining the wind
out of its affliction grew the epidemic
of black excellence
building communities, gaining wealth, and reestablishing identity.
The so-called powers had to take their power back
and so, they infected their neighborhoods with crack.
Mass incarcerate them
“Jump Jim Crow” them
school-to-prison pipeline them
hide their history
hide their truth
miseducate them and kill the youth.
Put your knees on their necks
and stick your knives in their backs.
But none of it worked.
It was a secret deeper than White Supremacy
more in-depth than the witchcraft of stolen identity
deeper than unarmed black men bleeding in the streets
more frightening than charred bodies hanging from trees
more detailed than this apparent sickness was the truth
these people they called plagues were not plagues at all
they were Prophets
and healers of the Earth.
It was no wonder the more they were afflicted,
the more they grew.