Sounds Like History


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

Swish, Swish

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


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 



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



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*


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