February 04, 2016

We Must Teach You

We Must Teach You
By Latorial Faison


We must teach you
To hold your head up high,
How to hold on to your faith
When darkness paints the sky.

We must teach you
To stand up, to say it loud,
The meaning of your history,
Your heritage of being proud.

We must teach you
To defeat each shame and fear,
How to conquer and survive
When danger lingers near.

We must teach you
That your blackness is not for jail,
Not for idle-minded mischief,
Not for hire and not for sale.

We must teach you
All that blackness has achieved,
That blessings are upon it
For all who have believed.

We must teach you
What blackness has been through,
How it fought to survive,
Why it is now up to you.

We must teach you
What your Blackness means,
How to read its warning label
When to die in search of dreams.

Copyrighted February 4, 2016-2017. Latorial D. W. Faison
www.latorialfison.com | Published in Mother to Son by Latorial Faison

July 30, 2015

Like So Many Black Mothers



I don’t know why God gave me you Black boys.
For sure, I’d scare any Black boy to death.
Girl got into bed with a man & woke
up with newborn me. I’ve spent all this life
knowing the how without knowing the why. 

My town was small, but I was not. I dreamed
of what I thought I deserved, what God said
I deserved. I have you Black boys, my Jim
Crow-ish South, Mama, Daddy & a book
of characters who leaped, overlapped &
made me who I am.  What can I give you?

How can I teach you to be Black men when
I have had so many different kinds of
Black men in me? The Black man who wasn’t,
the Black man who wasn’t mine, the Black man
who was mine & never wanted to be,
the Black man who was mine because he did
what real men are supposed to do, the Black
man I imagined, the Black man I dreamed
about, wrote about, the Black man who moved
mountains & told me I could too, the Black
man I married, the Black man I love more
because he first loves me, even when I’m
busy being Black, thinking Black, seeing
Black, dreaming & redeeming Black.  

I, like so many Black mothers, like so
many other mothers of Black boys, am
afraid, afraid for you to be you. I
am afraid for you to be Black in a
world that questions Blackness, a country that hates
Black men.  We dress you up & they tear you
down.  They string you up & we lower you
down, into the ground, in all your Blackness.

I know what White women of White children
don’t know, that my womb has died giving all
of me. They don’t know my Black history.
They don’t know my Black boys, that you, too, have
dreams, that you climb a mountain every day
just to dream them, that you are all the time
running in place in a world that keeps turning
around you, a world that keeps turning you
down, a world that keeps you encaged, outraged,
a world of systemic abuse center stage.

Life’s good when you dress Black, eat Black, study
Black & stay Black. Life’s good ‘til you question
who you are, who I am, where we came from
& where you belong. Life’s good ‘til you ask
questions, make educated guesses &
suggestions. While your pants don’t sag & your
hands don’t steal, you just might be some different
kind of nigger, some new breed of Negro,
some Barack Hussein Obama, some Black
boy uprooted from a virgin South where
Gabriel & Nat did not terrorize.

I don’t know why God gave me you, except
to raise you up,  Black & confident, Black
& sure that Black is both beautiful &
powerful, that Black is more than what you
make it, that Black is not a curse; it’s more
than color. Black is not having been born,
burned, or even burdened. Black is not a
Black poem, a Black song, or a slave narrative
documenting hundreds of years. Black is
not a country that you have never seen.

Black is not a tribal marking, a tattoo,
a lyric in a Hip-Hop song, or a diamond
in your left & right earlobes.  Black is not
a word the world has pronounced properly.
Black has been butchered, misinterpreted,
misunderstood, misquoted, misguided,
undocumented, excluded. Black is
not who you are, but who you are is Black.

You are the remnant, that left behind prophecy.
You are the unknown bloodline, the manhood
mixed up in this stolen den by some thieves.
So I tell you, You must be brave. You must be 
strong. You must be Black. You must be you.

Copyright © 2015 Latorial D. Faison


Black Friday

by Latorial Faison

In this big white tub
Soaking all this brown
To loud, deafening silence

Amid all the world's chaos & noise
All of Washington's politically complex poise
I am still the dream, still the hope of America's slave

And while this pot is being daily stirred
While its water boils with spilled blood 
hope for the future

Come, wade in this troubled water with me
Come clean in the precious
Blood of our lambs.

Copyrighted November 2014 Latorial D. Faison

March 26, 2013

I Need to Know


I need to know
My original name
I need to know
Without any shame

I need to know
About African slave castles
I need to know
About White slave masters

I need to know
About the slave trade
I need to know
How America was made

I need to know
About the Middle Passage
I need to know
About lynching and lashes

I need to know
My father, my mother
I need to know
My sister, my brother

I need to know
About the Amistaad
I need to know
That Africans had heart

I need to know
About the dirty south
I need to know
About the plantation house

I need to know
About brother Nat Turner
I need to know
About sister Sojourner

I need to know
About the laws of Jim Crow
I need to know
About a minstrel show

I need to know
About emancipation
I need to know
About segregation

I need to know
About Madame C. J. Walker
I need to know
About Justice Thurgood Marshall

I need to know
About the ideas of Malcolm X
I need to know
What Dr. King's dream meant

I need to know
About my family tree
I need to know
About my history

I need to know
The color of my skin
I need to know
The truth within


Copyrighted 2008 Latorial Faison
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History Volume 2

February 26, 2013

Old Time Religion


In our Sunday best we ate chicken, rolls, and potato salads,
attended Easter skits, Christmas plays, and spring rallies.

Choirs marched down aisles singing “Glory to His name,”
and from Amen corners a few dignified deacons came.

As church mothers taught us at Sunday school,
from an old coffee can we got to choose

Our favorite crayon with which to color Christ
walking on the water or giving new life.

Trustees cleaned and filled the pool outside
for many lost souls who would be revived.

Men, women, and children, they all were brave
if they came to the mourners bench to be saved.

From the Good Book, reverends charismatically read,
proclaiming that "for our sins the Savior bled."

Spirits were bound, loosed, and lifted,
and the people of God were slain in the Spirit.


Copyrighted 2012 Latorial Faison | www.latorialfaison.com
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History 3 by Faison (2012)

O Great Ancestor



O great ancestor
who fought
for me
jumped
into the sea
to make a point
for me

O great ancestor
who stole away
for me
through swamps
and bad weather
enduring
tragedy
for me

O great ancestor
who lived
to love
me so
that horror
is all
you ever came
to know

O great ancestor
who realized rape
for me
endured
a test of fate
that I
might be



O great ancestor
who lost limbs and life
for me
lived plantation ills
for the future
of me

O great ancestor
who was hung and strung
from trees
in fear,
pain,
and agony
praying
to be
set free

O great ancestor
who was maimed
and killed
inhumanely held
against your will
who toiled
tired
in the field

O great ancestor
for your
sacrifice
 this opportunity
this freedom
I owe you
my life


Copyrighted 2012 Latorial Faison | www.latorialfaison.com
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History 3 by Faison (2012)

Slave Questions



     Why, oh why
Can't I be free?
     Why are you
Afraid of me?

     Why did you steal me
And bring me here
     To treat me bad,
Keep me in fear?

     Why did you tell them
I'm like an ape,
     Uncivilized
And prone to rape?

     Why do you say
That I am dumb,
     That I am dangerous
And will cause harm?

     Why do you love
To hate my skin,
     To accuse me of wrong
And sell my kin?

     Why take me from
My native land
     To be misused
At another's hand?
 

      Why tell me that
I cannot read,
     I cannot write,
I cannot lead?

     Why take my children,
Sell them away,
     Break my heart,
And make me stay?

     Why use the whip
And change my name,
     Tell all the world
That I've been tamed?

     Why teach me words
And give me things
     But give me not
What freedom brings?

     Why, oh why
Can't I be free?
     Why are you
Enslaving me?


Copyrighted 2005 Latorial Faison | www.latorialfaison.com
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History by Faison (2006)