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A Litany for Survival 

By Audre Lorde

For those of us who live at the shoreline

standing upon the constant edges of decision

crucial and alone

for those of us who cannot indulge

the passing dreams of choice

who love in doorways coming and going

in the hours between dawns

looking inward and outward

at once before and after

seeking a now that can breed

futures

like bread in our children’s mouths

so their dreams will not reflect

the death of ours;

 

For those of us

who were imprinted with fear

like a faint line in the center of our foreheads

learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk

for by this weapon

this illusion of some safety to be found

the heavy-footed hoped to silence us

For all of us

this instant and this triumph

We were never meant to survive.

 

And when the sun rises we are afraid

it might not remain

when the sun sets we are afraid

it might not rise in the morning

when our stomachs are full we are afraid

of indigestion

when our stomachs are empty we are afraid

we may never eat again

when we are loved we are afraid

love will vanish

when we are alone we are afraid

love will never return

and when we speak we are afraid

our words will not be heard

nor welcomed

but when we are silent

we are still afraid

 

So it is better to speak

remembering

we were never meant to survive.

"A Litany for Survival." Copyright © 1978 by Audre Lorde, from The Collected Poems of Audre 

Self proclaimed “Black, lesbian, feminist, mother, poet warrior” Audre Lorde hailed from the streets of New York City and changed the world with her striking poems and essays that preached for the voices of women of color to be heard. “I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t,” said Lorde in 1985. Some of her most famous works of poetry include, The First Cities (1968), Cables to Rage (1970), and The Black Unicorn (1976). After being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a mastectomy, Lorde documented her journey in The Cancer Journals (1980) and refused to be made a victim of the disease. She battled cancer and lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the next decade where she took the African name Gamba Adisa, meaning "she who makes her meaning clear." Audre Lorde died on November 17, 1992. She rests as a warrior poet, activist, feminist and queen. Read more of her work here.  

These are just twelve victims of police brutality and hate crimes against African Americans in the last decade. Twelve out of the thousands of African Americans in this country who have lost their lives, the chance to reach their dreams, be fathers and mothers to their children because of the men in blue who are supposed to protect us. African Americans make up 13 % of the population in America and yet are twice as likely to get killed by police compared to white Americans.

Black Lives Matter.

Black Women Matter.

Black Men Matter.

Black Trans Lives Matter.

Black LGBTQ + Matter. 

I want and I know all of us can help change this country, so that when you are Black your death note is not signed the second you inhale the air of the “land of the free.”

BLACK POET OF THE MONTH

LOST BUT NEVER

FORGOTTEN.

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