It is the thing that makes me the woman I am
It is the anchor I hold onto, fingertips grasping
My bridge over troubled waters. My pigment. My skin.
When I had my first child, I was 17 years old A child raising a child. Didn’t even know who I was But I knew the person that people wanted me to be And that wasn’t an unwed mother. Not in the heart of Dixie My whole community was disappointed. Let alone the church Daddy’d pastored My mother was devastated. And I had let down my family I was the one who was supposed to lift the family up, see I scored so high on the tests, MIT wrote to me And now I was a cliche. Just another Negro statistic In spite of all the strides we had made during the Civil Rights Movement
I came of age watching men and women fight for what we’d never had Equal rights in public places. Something as simple as that I was born a long time ago. Way back in 1953 In Arkansas, whites and blacks couldn’t even sit on the same seat That all changed in an instant. Back in 1965 When President Johnson decided that it was finally time to get the Civil Rights Bill passed. That was on July 2 Now I could go swimming on the 4th, and white kids didn’t run out of the pool screaming
Even with two kids, I got a college degree But a corporate job wasn’t what I wanted. What I wanted was to be free to write the story of my community, my family, my church The story of my people who marched and sang and changed the whole wide world We got dressed up to march! Revolutionaries wore hats and gloves and matching purses. The Women’s Movement changed that And it changed me too. Changed the things that I wanted Except what never changed was me wanting to tell my story The things I saw and said even then, Now you remember this You will write this one day. Like the nite that I kissed a girl for the first time. And how that changed my life Got me sent away from home. Came back pregnant and a wife
Growing up in the South, spirits walked boldly among us And it was this spirituality that shapes the world of my novel My plays are more contemporary. They are about things like Black Lives Matter I wrote a play to explore the way the Black church handles things like sexuality I write about Black family. That’s what I mostly write about And I mold the political and the spiritual and really everything else into the shape of that family. And then I see where it goes Revolution. Medical issues. Hair won a Fringe First award Because the personal IS political. My writing helps shape the narrative in a world that often doesn’t hear older Black women’s voices
So I will continue to write like I will continue to breathe I will write thru disappointment like I wrote thru skinned knees and snotty noses. I was so young and so bored out of my mind But the page was always there. In validation of my life And it is here now. In a world that doesn’t see me until they hear my words. And then they cannot ignore me