A Poetic Tribute to #The Amanda Gorman
With poetic fortitude,
and unrehearsed confidence,
you showed us
what we had forgotten:
that poetry is both
grace & strength;
that hurting words
can be transformed
& become healing
if the right heart has created them,
if the right pen or computer has written them,
if the right cadence,
has the right lips to speak them,
words can be healing enough to forecast
the weather of an American spring, a new future for this country—
You gave us that
with your authentic #BlackGirlMagic/#BlackGirlPoetry—
such precious droplets
of tiny wisdom pearls
written from the heart,
fall gently upon fear, anger & pessimism
to become engraved
upon America’s soul.
You reminded us
and cautioned us:
Democracy is safe…
Though she is badly bruised
from chaotic encounters
trashing of her national Capitol symbol,
she is healing and in recovery.
We the American people can breathe again—
we—the other American people—can also breathe.
We are the descendants of the many
who endured Black enslavement,
Indigenous genocide, and generations of state-sanctioned
violence, police violence, supported by incarceration or death.
We, who have felt knees on our necks & known bullets in our backs,
We, who live daily with the threat of unwarranted police scrutiny,
and “justifiable” death hanging over us,
while breathing, while walking, while driving,
while watching TV in our own apartments,
while shopping, while birdwatching,
and while just living our lives,
your words remind us:
We can B-R-E-A-T-H-E,
inhale & exhale
the sweet air of humility & hope—
that should never have been separated
by surgical political precision
and white supremacy ideologies
that have dominated
this country’s moral compass
far too long.
of an inclusive America
have stagnated for far too long;
we have remained stranded
in democracy’s kitchen (waiting)
for far too long.
You have shown us,
through your own words rich with wonder:
“There is always a light if we are brave enough to see it.
There is always a light if we are brave enough to be it.”
So, if there is truly a season
then let this be the season
of hope & humility.
If there is truly a season
then let this be the season
of deliberate action & accountability.
For the season of apologies is past;
this cannot be a season of political amnesia;
this cannot be a season of hollow promises;
or of political regression.
We, as a people,
for better and for worse,
must demand a different season.
We have witnessed thousands
of pandemic deaths,
have tolerated hundreds of unjust police acts,
have endured a legal system,
carved out of the fabric of white supremacy,
stretching to forgive white violence against non-whites,
and shrinking as it incarcerates us
Black, Brown, and Native people unforgivingly.
This must be the season of “enough already.”
The year 2021 must be the jumpstart
of a true age of reckoning.
This must be a season
when the democratic soul of this country,
bruised, trampled upon, and misused though it has been and is,
must come out of hiding,
acknowledge its historic & contemporary imperfections,
and strive to be better,
stronger, and lean hard into practicing
what it preaches, not just for some, but for all of us.
This must be a new season—a season for ALL.
Thank you, Amanda for reminding us with your words.
Your poetry was the magic elixir we needed
to open our eyes and recognize that this is the season
when we redeem and reclaim the soul of this country—
this is the moment, the minute, the very second
when we heal the democratic soul of a country….this country,
© 2021 Irma McClaurin; All Rights Reserved
Irma McClaurin, PhD/MFA (http://irmamcclaurin.com/) is the Culture and Education Editor for Insight News and was named “Best in the Nation Columnist” by the Black Press of America in 2015. She is also an award-winning poet, activist anthropologist, and has held the previous leadership positions: president of Shaw University, Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, and former University of Minnesota Associate VP and founding executive director of UROC. She is the founder of the “Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and will release in February a collection of her columns: JUSTSPEAK: Reflections on Race, Culture, and Politics in America. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / https://twitter.com/mcclaurintweets.