In I walked to the class we call history
Ready to learn something about me
Heart skipping beats
Stomach leaping forward with a foolish anticipation
And sudden as the forces of gravity
It’s all ripped from me
The educator begins with slavery
I want to get up, but something is yanking at my spine
I want to move, I want to run
I want to hear the wind
I want to scream, that is not where my history begins!
My mother told me we were once queens, inventors, scientists and musicians
My grandfather said it was our roots that inspired the sounds of Jazz and Blues
BEE BOP BOO BEEE!
But they told me to never forget
Never be confused
It was our ancestors’ backs that were broken to build the image of racial hierarchy and supremacy
Their hands that bled so that cotton remained pure
Our heritage that was lost in the noises of English, the cracking whip, and the breaking of sugar cane
CRACK! Swoosh! CRACK!
While they laughed at our maternal relationship with nature, we sobbed from their paternal conquest
While the sun caressed our skin, the masters worked to dismantle it
Troubled by his internal paradox
Christian, yet sinful in the name of Jesus
Hateful, yet could not resist raping the beauty of the black woman
Unable to be the master of his own temple
So my grandmother tells me to never forget…
This teacher will not let me forget
What is this yanking at me spine?!!?
Where are the stories of the drums?
Why do they only live inside my head in moments like these
BOOM!! TAP!! BOOM!! BOOM!! TAP!!
The Miseducation of the Negro began with confusion
And the Peculiar Institution of slavery has achieved such sophistication
Protected under the nations' cooperation….and here in my classroom……
Currency builds gates that have filtered and watered down my education
Miscommunication laces our conversations, so that the tower of Babel stands tall again
Today’s technology hinders our understanding of each other
Though the color lines have blended together, compassion remains black and white
Few are as Americanized as the African-American
His and her thirst for love and acceptance cuts deep into the wounds of our past
Those who were once people of Africa, the originators, are easily distracted
Gun powder and bullets still fascinate us just as they did the blacks of the Atlantic Slave Trade
They have become poisonous to our community
And you stand on that corner, claiming it
Because we have had nothing truly of our own in America
The gang wars are an attempt to take it
But, that corner is not yours, that house is not yours,
You have nothing
Not even your own spine!!!
-Alexandria M. Todd
*Poem inspired by the attached image*