Dr. Ni's Author Spotlight
Black women on both East and West Coasts as well as those from literature are lauded by poet Niama L. Williams in her tribute to their tenacity, strength of will, and determination to positively influence the young of our culture. See if you can find yourself or someone you love in one of this poet's sharp and accurate portrayals.
The women she's known and loved. The women who've raised her. The Brown Women in literary works who've seared their stories into her memory. Women who have survived, women who ensure the survival of others. Women who love when love consistently threatens to walk out of the door. Women who create where only barrenness is expected to exist.
FOR THE NORTH PHILLY SISTA
i don't stutter.
i have never known that particular frustrated paralysis
but i have known the immediate loss of breath
when trying to walk two blocks.
what i understand now
is that a path has been cleared for me.
the ancestors who made white the sacred color
those who moaned and wailed yet refused to die
those who chose life
after the voyage
after the finger search
after the auction block
i am born of those people
who cleared a path for me.
i look at the women of north philly
the fat ones, with children, with food stamps,
with baskets filled to bulging only once a month
i wonder who speaks for these women.
i carry as much weight as they do
i wonder who loves them
if they have a caring doctor who does not give up
if they know there was a path cleared for them.
i am walking down a well-worn stretch
cause sonia has already stood on stages and declared
black women poet
and baraka has already moved the rock that hid our music
and kept it from our verse
both larry and langston declared that we were black
that we would write
that we wouldn't cater to white audiences.
phillis did not know these road clearers
yet she was one.
they did not pull up a few weeds
or toss away a few pebbles.
they moved boulders without bulldozers
tamed mountains without dynamite
poured no tar, mixed no asphalt,
simply hardened the path with their many, many feet.
and so i clear a path for the north philly woman
the overweight sista with too many children, food stamps,
and the latest do.
there is pain in the pounds that she carries
pain in not being able to reach good and wipe her ass
pain in the stiffness when she sits too long
pain in the steps she must climb one breath at a time
pain in the fourth drunk who figures she's an easy lay
pain in the clothes she stashes but cannot wear.
i am clearing a path for that sista
a path that will let her speak
a path with no curves and no steps,
no drunks and no food stamps,
no screaming children and no no-count men.
this path has jobs, size 28 pretty dresses,
ice cream cones that don't add to the waistline.
this is a path long fought for,
a path madison avenue does not want to see.
a path many, many descendants will keep free
of rocks, boulders, weeds,
a path part of the whole network of paths,
a path that simply must be.