I am doing this more for myself than for this English assignment. Having a moment like this where one is in conversation with themselves and examining every part of them is important. If you already know me, you are already aware of my passion for books and poetry. But how does this come into the conversation of explaining the person that I am right now, and what along the way has played a huge role in who I am as a young black woman? Explore and delve into a piece of my conscious.
Every media piece
Is a look at what makes Kailande herself
and the ways in which I move
and exist in this world.
Embracing Young Black Womanhood & Positivity
One day I was walking with a close friend of mine around the mall, and I overheard an older woman’s conversation and she stated with such a fiery passion: “There is so much light being a black woman!” And she is right. These songs remind me of the light that we possess and lessons we must always carry with us.
“Strength, Courage & Wisdom” – India Arie
“Keep Trying”- Groove Theory
“No more Rain” – Angie Stone
“Keep On Moving” – Soul II Soul
“I’m Going All The Way”- Sounds of Blackness
These songs have always settled in my heart and have served as reminders to maintain positivity and continue to commit to self-growth. As a young black woman, my discussions with my mother have grown to become heartfelt, honest, and extremely encouraging. Part of what facilitated my growth and elevation is realizing how precious I am and making sure that I am keeping a leveled head through life’s trials and tribulations. As black women are portrayed in a negative light with stereotypes and having “the value and validity of [our] conceptual position(s) held at a distance”, these songs remind me of our strength and our history of perseverance (Royster 9). Whenever I am going through trials or I am faced with a challenge, I remind myself that I am equipped with the strength and pieces of wisdom from the women that came before me and to keep on moving with optimism. If I am lacking sleep and still need to get myself through the day, I start listening to “Keep On Moving” by Soul II Soul while downing peppermint tea for focus and stress relief. Likewise, if I end up not attaining a certain goal for the day, I’ll pick my evening up with “Keep Trying” by Groove Theory. One song that is very dear and important to me, is India Arie’s “Strength, Courage & Wisdom”. The song itself is so warming and she sings,
“I close my eyes and I think of all the things that I want to see
‘Cause I know, now that I’ve opened up my heart I know that
Anything I want can be, so let it be, so let it beStrength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of meIt’s been inside of me all along, everyday I’m praying forStrength, courage, and wisdom
To find me, yeah,
Strength, courage, and wisdomInside of meI found it in me, I found it finally
I’m sure to keep it’ cause I like it, I say thank you
While I know there is still so much of life that I will experience, this song served as a critical means of comfort and would served as a reminder that I am equipped with strength within and that all I see for myself, from my goals and aspirations, will come to pass because of the power and light within me.
With my poetry and reading, I have grown to realize that I am in constant conversation with the world, intellects, those I love, myself as a young woman, and God. What constitutes a conversation? Well, I believe that it can be carried out in various mediums and with a multitude of people within different texts.
I absolutely love reading. All four of these texts represent a very key aspect of my growth and journey as a young black woman and in terms of what I am learning and taking in along the way and invite me into honest and raw conversation with the state of our black communities, specifically women.
“Even the Stars Look Lonesome” – Maya Angelou
In “Even the Stars Look Lonesome” is Maya Angelou’s second book of essays through which she connects to her reader on topics she is most passionate about. She delves into her own personal experiences that formed key pieces of wisdom concerning life’s in’s and out’s as a black woman. She speaks about how a house can both heal and bring pain. She speaks of the beauty of age and sensuality. She speaks on the richness of African cultures as well as the negative image many held about Africa. She also speaks on the importance of momentary solitude and soul-searching. One of my favorite quotes that she incorporates in her last chapter:
“Many believe that they need company at any cost, and certainly if a thing is desired at any cost, it will be obtained at all costs. We need to remember and to teach our children that solitude can be a much-to-be-desired condition. Not only is it acceptable to be alone, at times it is positively to be wished for. It is in the interludes between being in company that we talk to ourselves. In the silence we listen to ourselves. Then we ask questions of ourselves. We describe ourselves, and in the quietude we may even hear the voice of God” (Angelou)
“The Farming of Bones” – Edwidge Danticat
Reading “The Farming of Bones” was such a turning point in my life while in high school. Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian woman, and prolific writer brought to light a history of the tensions between Haitian and Dominican people that I never read in a transparent, detailed piece of fiction. It was heart-wrenching, and of course, in many ways angering, but this book gave me my first look into the emotional and traumatic strife, and sacrifice that my people endured while being ostracized and targeted by people that share a similar lineage. I was and will always be aware of what my people are going through, but learning of the details of the tension between both Caribbean countries really brought to light many questions that I had.
“Shake Loose My Skin” – Sonia Sanchez
“for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf” – Ntozake Shange
These two poetry works have been extremely influential in terms of displaying how raw, and very hard it can be as a black woman and made me understand the amount of strength within my own mother. “for colored girls” by Ntozake Shange has had such a massive influence on the way I understand the meaning of sisterhood and triumph after immense suffering. These works have made me realize the perseverance of the black women in my family.
This section is composed of a segment of an interview of Maya Angelou, a collection of a few spoken word performances that have served as significant sources of inspiration and a collection of a few of my favorite photos taken by the famous photographer, Chester J. Higgins. These all serve as means to explain and display my immense passion for the human experience, articulating the colorful experiences, and thoughts we conjure through art and poetry. These contribute to our intellectual and creative genealogy as black people.
Maya Angelou Speaks of Love.
If there is one thing I believe in, it is the power of love. I have been raised in a household lined with the comfort of my parent’s voices, decorated with the high pitched laughter of my little siblings, and warmed by hugs, prayers, and tears of growth and joy. I am who I am today because of the love of those around me. I realize that love in itself goes beyond gesture, goes beyond profession and even goes beyond a kiss. My heart, my mind, and my being as a young black woman are what they are today because I have been blessed to experience this light. This portion of the interview with Maya Angelou speaks to me because it aptly explains what I think of when I think about love and its nature. Her words remind me of how immensely grateful I am for the love and encouragement showered over me growing up and explains why I am the nurturing person I am today. My mother has always been my rock, and always will. She has experienced the hardest that life had to bring to the table and came out so strong, that it’s unbelievable and she still had the strength to raise me and shower wisdom over me till this day.
“Tell them” Carvens Lissaint (Spoken Word)
“Karma” – Dominique Christina
Spoken Word Poetry is something near and dear to my heart. I love the process, the act of writing to explore concepts, emotions, and expressing the complexities of our humor. Spoken word poetry and written poetry allows us as a people to “engage in discussions of culture, ideology, hegemony, and asymmetrical power relations” (Gilyard 41). When I think about what our people have gone through for centuries and are going through today around the world, It can be tempting to lose face and conclude a state of hopelessness. However complex and no matter the depth of the pain of our history and current situations, our poetic expression is hot with fire and continues to prophesy over upcoming generations. What is so beautiful about spoken word poetry and the writing of it is that yes “we have limited powers in the face of all we confront”, but we possess a great deal of “imagination, splendid playfulness, wonderful resourcefulness” (Gilyard 44-45).
Chester Higgins Jr. (Photography)
I am not a photography aficionado, however, I am very moved by Chester Higgins Jr. photography. In everything I do and experience, I love the small things. I love seeing people celebrate and love together. I love the nice feeling that a close-knit open mic session gives me. I love seeing the elderly talk amongst each other and give words of wisdom to the youth. I enjoy music out in the open at summer jazz music festivals and seeing people reminisce about another time. I enjoy everything and anything that helps constitute this human experience; the small yet momentous, the prayer sessions with your best friends who are going through a tough time, the holding of hands with someone that understands, singing, my baby sister’s laughter when I tickle her. If anything in the world, those around me must know that I am passionate about life and his photography showcases its beauty and nuances.
Music, literature and the visual arts make up so much of what I like to call expressive humanity. It provides a means for understanding life, and creating meaning for ourselves and sharing theories, ideas, and creative skill. As a black woman I have found ways to reconcile my personal experiences and thoughts with the world around with my poetry, with the books listed above that helped facilitate growth, and in the songs that I played to uplift my mood and bring out positivity. There is so much more for me to experience and as I progress and attain more knowledge and wisdom, surely this syllabus will become so much more extensive.
Royster, Jacqueline Jones.“When the First Voice You Hear Is Not Your Own.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 47, no. 1, 1996, pp. 9-10. JSTOR, JSTOR,
Angelou, Maya. Even the stars look lonesome. Bantam Books, 2017.
Gilyard, Keith. “Literacy, Identity, Imagination, Flight.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 52, no. 2, 2000, pp. 260–272. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/358496