You don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.

– 2002 Black History Month theme for the African Student Coalition, Monte Vista High School, when I was Vice President

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“Let America be America Again.”

by Langston Hughes, 1935

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)
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A Resolution

For the boss who called me a goddamn coward and chuckled as her words split me, for the teacher who called me useless, eyes hot and mean, when I did not follow her instructions to a T. For the countless white men who broke into me with that word, and for the men, women, boys, and girls who pushed me down ’cause my chocolate skin, ’cause pride, ’cause of the day of the week. For the guy friend who called me lazy and lazy and lazy one mo’gin. For the lovers who questioned my worth. For the girl friend who called me out my name always for the heck of it. For those who lied to dampen the power of my truth and told me that I wasn’t, couldn’t and never would be, I resolve this for you –

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A woman from Haiti braided my hair the other day. Her strong cocoa brown fingers locked my hairs together in a tight embrace, while she hummed and sang. I closed my eyes and wondered about far off spaces, places beautiful and lit by the sun. Then she crocheted in caramel-colored twists, luxurious ropes trailing down my face.

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