United States

  • City, State: Palo Alto, CA
  • Geographic Location: North America

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As a child, I was surrounded by beautiful, strong and proud black women who taught me to love myself and my black skin. There was Grandmo, Izora, Jessie, Big Mama and Auntie, Marie and Alma, Johnnie Mae and Lois. These women taught me, talked to me and displayed power and grandeur that ignited my own light. They proudly called me "a shiner" because I glowed; I was black and so radiant.

But when I started school I was rudely awakened. I was faced with hatred and racism for the first time. And I just could not reconcile the belittling, hurtful, demeaning and minimizing view of others with the powerful self-regard and pride of the women in my family. I didn't understand; how could I be so great and yet a world full of people hated me and others who looked like me?

This poem was written out of hope to remember and return to how things were before we learned about racism, inequality, prejudice and our "differences." Today, with the recent election of Barack Obama as the first African American President of the United States, I think some of Before has become Today.



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