In Memory of My Great, Great, Great Grandma
This is a poem in memory of my grandmother's great grandmother, that is my great, great, great grandmother who was an enslaved woman of West African heritage during the late 1700 and early 1800s. This poem is dedicated to her memory and life, a life that was regarded as lower than a cow or a horse; a life in which she was treated not like a person but like a chattel, a thing to be bought and sold. Yet despite of the dehumanization that she encountered, she was a worrior, a determined spirit, one that could not be completely broken by slavery. She was a person, a woman and was determined to let it be known. Although I never met her I salute her strength and fortitude and I thank her for suffering not only for me but for all the women and men of colour and all women who have been and continue to be treated in discriminatory ways, the women who are continually abused and disrespected, the women who find the courage and confidence to fight back against their oppression even in ways unrecognized.
I introduce to you the circumstances (aution block, ardous labour & brutality), the thoughts, feelings and emotions of an enslaved woman who begot six generations of women. I hope you find her strength inspiring.
There she stands regal and majestic; African queen for all to see
Scantily attired, her vulnerability is revealed; Majestic always will be
Oppressed and repressed yet deep in her belly the fires of resilience burn
And you are scalded by her fury, her strength and her sexuality you yearn
Gawkers, prodders, gropers your curiosity to satisfy; her body your pawn
Stoic she stares, eyes full of determination; she’s nobody’s lawn
You may sell her body but you can’t sell her soul and mind; she won’t let you.
Shackled, bounded and brow-beaten into submission; so you thought
But you cannot control the fire within; your vile game is everything and naught
Beast of burden, promiscuous and ugly; yet her body is ripe for your ravage
In her eyes you see yourself and your deepest fear is you’re the savage
Raped, tortured, overworked and despised you take all that she’s got
But there is more than your bloody hands can take; your doormat she’s not
Bottomless pit of strength, fortitude and grace; despite your fear and hate.
Traded like live-stock on the auction block; she will not wallow in your pen
Her future always uncertain and unsure; yet her way forward she guards like a hen
Her value set by those who exploit her body; but her soul and spirit you can’t control
Her mind is her own; so against your vices and schemes she leads the patrol
She’s not seen for her intellectual, beauty or humanity; but watch out she’s got a mind
You see her as a chattel, a thing, a possession to own and trade; but she’s no-one’s find
Exploited, beaten, molested, broken into obedience; yet she’s indifferent and ready for a challenge.
Stripped naked, flogged, whipped and humiliated; her vulnerability to all exposed
Her body bears the marks of your brutality; your recklessness and vile imposed
Sick, weakened, fatigued and exhausted yet she finds the strength to persevere
Treated like an animal or a piece of machinery; her body and thought you domineer
She detest your presence and wished you extinct; your essence as bitter as gall
Imposed on and oppressed by your civilization, your God, your laws; but Babylon must fall
You tyrannical savage possessing no conscience, no heart, no empathy, no humanity.
Copyright: Feb 21, 2013