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I’m at a loss for words.
The events of the past week have jarred me from my complacency and forced my eyes open to see the world as I have never comprehended it before. My masked grandchildren arrived yesterday for merely 6 hours to unveil the headstone for their grandfather, my father in law. We couldn’t hug, we stayed outdoors, (thankfully the weather obliged), and we played games as if things weren’t really any different than our visits in the past.
But everything is different; the economy is suffering, people are living in isolation and fear, thousands are ill and dying of Covid-19, and the flames of hate, unrest and violence are burning unrestrained.
Many articles and interviews have been published in print and online and what I know is this; I can’t begin to imagine the pain and the injustice in this society for those who are black or brown, our brothers and sisters who repeatedly face unwarranted oppression and death for living their lives just as we do.
This poem by Maya Angelou is discernibly painful and yet, filled with hope for the oppressed. May we all find peace, strive for justice, and console one another in the coming days, weeks and years ahead.
Still I Rise
by MAYA ANGELOU
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.