1/19/2009

These Powerful Days

Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness.
Let us stand with a greater determination.
And let us move on in these powerful days,
these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be.
We have an opportunity to make America a better nation.

~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yesterday our church service was a celebration/contemplation of both Martin Luther King, Jr. day and the upcoming inauguration. I've mentioned once or twice how much I love my church - and it was days like yesterday that bring it home again, and help me appreciate the open-minded, thoughtful, progressive community I have there. I got to drum! With four other drummers, we played traditional West African rhythms. After the sermon, which was rich with thought-provoking messages of acknowledging our history as a nation that did (and in some ways still does) keep human beings as slaves, we played a rhythm called Rhumba. I got all teary-eyed, holding and playing my drum that came from West Africa, thinking of where we as a nation have come from, and where we are going. Still much to do - but one thing Dr. King foresaw? Tomorrow, we are inaugurating a man into the presidency of this country who was elected, not because of the color of his skin, but because of the content of his character. I am moved beyond belief - and yet, I do believe! It is happening.

My minister read a poem written by Alicia Chambers, the daughter of a UU minister. It is the result of a poem-writing exercise called "On the Question of Race" which you can read about here. I absolutely love this poem, and I'm glad to be able to share it with you. Get someone to read it out loud to you:

On the Question of Race

They ask me to write down my race

And I think
And I think
Very seriously

And I consider
Writing down the truth
And have my answer read

I have a strong woman
Colored like coffee
Whispering the secrets of our past
Inside this body

I have a wise man
Dark as chocolate
Beating his drum, fighting for freedom
Inside this body

I have a brave woman
Pale as snow
Reminding that we are more
Than meets the eye
Her secret is safe
Inside this body

I have a lost man
Colored like me
He is weak
Stumbling from place to place
Trying to find his way home
Warning me of everything
I do not want to become

I have all this music inside this body
The rhythms guiding me
Salsa
Meringue
Swing
Songs of freedom and hope
A name that can’t begin to
communicate
Where I’ve been or where I plan to go
Inside this body

They ask me to write down my race

And I think
And I think
Very seriously

And I consider
Writing down the truth
And have my answer read

I have the heart of my great-
grandmother
The strength of mi abuelita
The spirit of my grandfather
And my mother’s understanding
Inside this body

I have jacks
Dr. Seuss
Lullaby and Good-night
And marbles
Inside this body

I have Ray Charles
James Taylor
Bob Marley
Sly and the Family Stone
And We Five
Inside this body

I have a brother whose appearance
Does not reveal his culture

I have all our past
And so much future
Inside this body

But I stop and simply write down
“Other”

2 comments:

ps pirro said...

Beautiful poem. Do I love that the inaugural follows MLK Day? Yes. Will I be in tears all day? No doubt.

MiMi said...

The poem is beautiful as are your words. Yesterday was a remarkable day indeed!