Every now and then, I come across poetry that is arch and precise.
Some focused on the sublime that is our sublime, like the earth that is our earth.
And when I seat and mediate on the words, reflect too on the light they carry, I am pushed to carry this light too.
Knowing there is light in the light that is out there.
Certain words I read, stay with me, like notes to black women, moving and free.
Toni Morrison’s letter ‘A knowing so deep’ is one. Gwendolyn Brooks musings to Black women, is another.
I especially love these lines: ‘where there is cold silence.’ Think about it for a moment.
If you are Black and woman, moving and free, whether in academic settings or medical settings, in politics or any other setting, silence will be your companion.
Yet, despite it, prevail. My second favorite word in Gwendolyn Brooks’s musing.
Prevail. Black woman. Prevail.
I hear these words in Brook’s voice, and the voice of my mother, my grandmother and a generation of other women, a long line of them, I met and never met. They keep reminding me each day to prevail.
I was born around the same time a dearly beloved older woman in my family passed. Reincarnated to fulfill her previous life desires. Her full story remains unknown but when days get dark or dreary and work seems insurmountable, I hear her voice, which sound like mine, reminding me always to prevail. So I do.
I prevail. Through days full of polished tears. I prevail. Through hollow days with no rest. I prevail. Across a room full of questioning stares. I prevail. And even when they pry without care. I prevail.
Where there is cold silence. I’ll prevail. Through brilliant clouds. I’ll prevail. Through vigorous moon. I’ll prevail. And when nothing else matters. I’ll still prevail. Knowing that their silence will still be cold. Yet, I’ll prevail. When confrontations are startling and many. I’ll prevail. Even where there are no hurrays or handshakes or smiling faces. I’ll still prevail. All because large countries remain in eyes that still long to create and train flowers. For this reason, we shall continue to prevail in a light that is our light. See the sun, see it there shining in all it’s glory. There, exactly there, lies a Black woman who has learnt how to prevail. When they come for her and they will come in a silence that is cold. Prevail, you shrewd sun. Prevail and still prevail.
That’s the message Gwendolyn Brooks wants all Black women to know written years ago but still so poignant and relevant. It was a joy to rewrite this for today’s Black women. Keep prevailing wherever you are. And see the original piece below.