I stand surrounded by many whirling elements.

Thunder, storms, fire, ice.

All surround me.

I stand neither consumed nor protected.

Just looking, seeing, waiting, writing.

The things I have seen, while writing.

The stories are plentiful.

Rejection. I know it too well. My soul has known the sting of being dismissed. We have bones scattered with this, though we stand.

Failure. Well, Lord knows I know it’s key ingredients and can make a tasty meal out of it. The coils of it have coiled around my neck, choking me, though I learnt how to spit it out too.

Silence. This one has never protected me. I keep learning that every day. So many of us are transforming it to action.

Light. My middle name. The only thing I come to with full vigor, gathering words, like lamp, to light my path. Declaring too, “Let there be Light.” Perhaps when you know you are light, you know you cannot be hidden. In your light they see light.

That is why it is full of grace to be so young, so gifted, and it is equally divine to do so, being Black, to be young, gifted and Black.

The world isn’t waiting for you.

Not today.

So do whatever you want.

For me, words.

I intend to write as I please, write about the world as I see it, write about what I hope it was, and write about what it must be.

Or there will be no world. Not for me, not for you, and definitely not for the next generation.

So I will write.

About beginnings I care about, some I found, where they called us wild, used bits, and whipped our backs, and somehow we learned to fly.

I will write to a point, continue to work hard at it, for I care about it.

I will also write about our people, write to tell their stories, write to uncover their rejections, their failures, their silence, their light.

I cannot pass this up.

Something glorious is happening.

I intend to perfect it.

These words were inspired by Lorraine Hansberry. It’s hard to imagine what she might have contributed had she lived longer.

Here is a woman born in Chicago in 1930, dead by 1965 at the age of 34, but nevertheless became the first Black woman to have her play produced by Broadway and the first Black winner of the prestigious Drama Critics award, something she won at age 29.

That play ‘A Rasin in the Sun,’ remains the most widely produced and read play by any Black American woman.

In ‘Looking for Lorraine,’ Imani Perry described her as ‘a woman intoxicated by beauty and enraged by injustice.’ She was also passionate about amplifying the voices of Black people.

One of my favorite aspects of her life is the ‘To be Young, Gifted, and Black’ speech she delivered to the winners of a United Negro College Fund writing contest.

This speech would set the stage for her play by the same name adapted by her husband after her death in 1969. Nina Simone also performed a song of the same name that year. This sterling woman is my muse for today and inspiration for the verses above. I hope you know wherever you are, that you should always keep being young, gifted and Black.

Lorraine Hansberry’s speech, To be Young, Gifted and Black.

It was Lorraine Hansberry that said once to a friend that she wished to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful and that which to love. Therefore since she has known all of these things, she has found them to be reason enough and so she wished to live. As I reflect on these words, I too realize that I wish to live, not only for that which is good, that which is beautiful and that wish is love. I want all of that, but to them I also add that I wish to live to know that which is joy. I see it in my baby’s eye every times our eyes connect. More than love alone, there is unbridled joy when 2 minds connect, 2 souls connect. Slowly, every word spoken and unspoken are our way of knowing, an extension of myself beyond myself, as told by the joy we both have for each other. I wish to live to bask in this joy forever, to sustain each other, and continue to remain with each other long after our space on earth. Yesterday, we remembered my father who passed away 12 years ago on January 23rd. Here was a man for whom his joy for me had no limit. I saw it always in his eyes and in the ways he spoke and uplifted me. He would tell me the world was mine for the taking, take it and go as far as you can. I miss him terribly. I see him still this time through my children. Their eyes share the joy my father gave to me as a little girl and because of them, I wish to live to know this joy always. Joy to me, along side, all that is good, all that is beautiful and all that is love are reasons enough to live. And like Lorraine, I wish to live.