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Raisin Acorns

By: Lisa L. Daniels

Let us grow mighty oaks

Our acorns keep getting crushed

under the weight of the world 

beaten

raped

shot

kneed

lynched

bludgeoned 

murdered

 

Let the acorns grow

in nurtured environments 

with clean water

with lots of space 

with good roots

A tree does not chop itself down 

Let us grow our acorns into mighty oaks 

instead of being the constant crop of strange fruit picked too soon 

with raisin dreams that never raised us 

with more acorns to raise that may never grow to be mighty oaks

Hopefully, there will be more justice

By: Lisa L. Daniels 

An audible collective sigh of relief field the air loud as his last gasp.

Living in a war-torn country will make you think that when the right thing actually happens, it's a victory or an extraordinary miracle.

Yes, today is an anomaly in Black History. 

A day when 15,000 people were pardoned for marijuana charges in Birmingham, Alabama. 

A day when a jury found a police officer guilty of a crime, we all saw happen and replayed constantly on social media and the news. 

A day when another family in Minnesota is planning the funeral of a Black man killed by the police. 

A day when a 15-year-old Black girl was killed by the police in Ohio. 

A day when new winds whistled through old trees. 

 

Hopefully, there will be more justice.

Hopefully, there will be more memories. 

Hopefully, there will be more days of getting home safely.

Hopefully, there will be more quiet nights

and bedtime stories

and good night kisses

as more of us can finally

rest in peace

and then wake up once again to experience 

another beautiful day. 

One day of many. 

  

Leave us alone

By: Lisa L. Daniels

 

Leave us alone

to be ourselves 

to learn what we love about life 

to explore elegant environments 

to experience the parts of the world that haven't been accessible to us 

to engage in opportunities that could help us raise our families to higher levels of safety and happiness. 

 

There

        are 

             levels 

                     to 

                        this.

 

Leave us alone 

at the gas stations

the grocery stores

the restaurants

the malls 

the rest stops

the hotels

the parks- dear God the parks

the museums 

the neighborhoods 

the schools 

the libraries

the ballot boxes

the banks

the courts 

the constitution

For some of us, liberty means that you don't have to wake up and think about how white supremacy, sexism, and classism will steal a piece of you.

For some of us, there is so much more that seeks to steal pieces of us when all we really want is to be left alone- safe and happy.

Please leave before I breakout the Julia Sugarbaker version. 

How did I get to Paris 

By: Lisa L. Daniels

As others made it to Broadway 

As others made it to the NBA

As others made it to Wimbledon 

As others made it to the Grammys 

As others made it to Carnegie Hall

As others made it to the NFL 

 

I read like Michael Jordan played 

I wrote like Michelle Kwan figure skated  

I traveled to different worlds like Mae Jemison traveled  into space 

I spoke like Michelangelo painted

I acted like Whoopi Goldberg in everything

 

I worked hard but I made it look easy to the people who knew of me. 

When I appear on the scene, no one ever knows exactly how taxing it is to wear a 400 year old mask. 

Grounded 

By: Lisa L. Daniels 

I once felt that being stuck inside was a bad thing. 

Stuck in one place with everything I need is not bad. 

I am no longer grounded. 

I am using the grounds to plant myself, to work on myself, to learn from myself in quiet moments.

There are too few quiet moments in the lives of Black women. 

The quiet use to haunt me. 

The quiet after the last breath of a loved one. 

The quiet as someone walks out the door for the last time. 

The quiet as loved ones leave for brighter futures.

Once, the quiet was filled with doubt and the absence of something needed. 

Now that I have found myself longing and working for more length and depth and breadth,

the quiet is filled with possibility. 

It's the Black Joy for me 

By: Lisa L. Daniels

On Saturdays, I'd wake up early

to spend my time with people I wanted to see

in places where I wanted to be

in front of the family television

with my sisters as we watched cartoons and consumed big bowls of cereal

while Momma cleaned collard greens and Daddy cut the grass

inside the fellowship hall reading scriptures for Bible Study

with the friends and family I only got to see on the weekends

while my uncle manicured the church grounds and my Godmother brought in snacks for VBS

in the public library

with friends competing for the reading challenge 

while Momma and Joy worked on their community college applications 

in the shop making gift baskets and blowing up balloons 

with my cousins and customers who wanted to see a Black family business thrive 

while my older cousins played pool and basketball

in Legion Field drinking hot chocolate from the thermos

with my family and friends at the Battle of the Bands

while the marching bands and the fans grooved to the moment

in the beauty shop

with my mother, my sisters, and my God auntie 

while we watched one of Tyler Perry's new plays or BET or UPN

in the big backyards 

with my sister's friends for a birthday cookout learning the cupid shuffle and the two step

while her mother made fall off the bone barbecue

in my Granny's apartment in South Birmingham

with her and Matlock, Lucy & Ricky, and the Designing Women

while she explained the power dynamics of each person on the show

New characters don't know the history of getting to do things until they are told

We did these things because we finally 

had access to the time

had access to the space 

had access to the place

had access to the money

to be who we wanted to be

to dress how we wanted to dress

to be do what we wanted to do 

to be where we wanted to be 

to go where we wanted to go 

 

Black Joy can be found and created in every space if there is enough love

Find

Create 

Nourish

Relish

Protect

Black Joy 

For the Queen of Basin Street

By: Lisa L. Daniels 

Dreamgirls gave a sliver of the life

others had to live 

for every Diana Ross 

there where thousands like Billie Holiday 

for every Deena and Miraalee

there where thousands like Effie and Endie 

Black women who could saaaaaaaaaaang 

but didn't have the right 

shape

legs

arms

breast

butts 

thighs

lips 

hair

nose

eyes

shade

but didn't have the right look 

so their songs were by someone else

their songs became the generational wealth of

people who had the right look

when are we going to get back to music

For the Queen of Basin Street

was the maid in your house 

A poem for Juneteenth then and now

By: Lisa L. Daniels 

Who knows what my great,

And my great great,

And my great great great,

And my greatest of great grandmamas in this country went through

-With the burden of being born Black and enslaved in this country,

With the burden of being breeders instead of mothers in this country,

With the burden of bearing children in fields while still picking cotton and doing everything necessary to keep themselves alive in this country,

With the burden of seeing their children sold to another plantation and with no hope of seeing them again in this country,

With the burden of night terrors of slave masters raiding their quarters for children as gator bait in this country,

With the burden of not being able to read, to write, to vote, or to wed in this country.

I wonder what watch night felt like in this country,

-The New Year’s Eve party of 1862 where my ancestors waited for a new beginning of their lives in this country,

I wonder about

The first book she got to read,

The first letter she got to write,

The first vote she ever got to cast,

The first person she ever got to marry,

The first lynching after the Reconstruction ended,

And then the dread of living in the South again once the federal troops left in this country.

I wonder how many Black prosperous towns she saw turn into ash or flooded to make the man-made lakes and parks in today’s affluent communities in this country.

I wonder with the burdens my ancestors carried and my soul remembers their hopes

-For greener grass,

For clearer skies,

For a good night’s sleep,

For a better tomorrow,

and for a life filled with peace and prosperity

For generations to come.

I dream of more freedom every day in this country.

#Juneteenth #Alabama #inthiscountrywecallUnited 

The Smart Bar

When I think about teaching, I think about how I must be a role model in the lives of children. 

I must be someone they can look up to and ask for advice. 

I cannot risk being "not that smart". I cannot step-and-fetch it. Too much of that has happened to those burdened as "Black Bamas" living on the intersection of people thinking that we aren't smart and people who provide them with evidence: 

Evidence that proves their point, 

Evidence that says they're right, and  

Evidence that there is power in voting in local and state-wide elections. 

Remember whatever is said in an election will be said to represent you and your interests.

"Not that smart" won't cut to discuss measures that impact my life. 

I would not allow that from a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, a preacher, or a neighbor and I most certainly won't accept it from a politician. 

It's time to raise the bar in our communities. Its time expect more from our representatives. 

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