Words That Still Burn | CBE International

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Words That Still Burn

A slam poem from the perspective of Sarah and Angelina Grimké

Crack the book that
Re-rewrites history
And grow new eyes to
Legal injustice

As a girl I watched
Color decide
The lines between human and not
Hit me
Like the whip he used on your back
Your blood flowed and your screams
Choked my sense
Of humanity
Like a millstone
Around my neck
Growing heavier
With each black face
Pushed to the dirt

They said you weren’t
Allowed to know
What letters meant
On a page

But when sleep
Took every head and
Their rules to bed
In the flicker of candlelight
Guarded
I taught you
Worlds to be discovered

Without warning your
Breath left
Your tiny body
And became a flame inside me
Burning until your
People are equal
To mine

As a woman they
Said my actions were
Unnatural when I
Spoke up for
Those forgotten

I do not fight
For special treatment
Of those deemed
Less-than

But I ask for opportunity
To be equal
To look eye to eye
And not be condemned
Because I have
A woman’s body

I know something of
Your suffering
When oppression becomes
Comfortable
And our names no
Longer matter
Stand with me
Hear the words that I
Pen to you
In defense of
Something better

With conviction piercing
Our souls and a
Message of love
We ask you kindly
Brothers

To take your feet
Off our shoulders
And give us a
Chance to breathe
To occupy the space
That God intended

The rules that ignored
Injustice
Broke when I refused
To follow
Every box you shut
Me in
I throw away
Because the oppression
I witnessed and
Endured
Haunts me until
Justice is proclaimed
Truth is realized
And we’re all called
Humanity again

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