Let this young black woman’s voice be the one you listen to today…
Spoiler alert. This poem is a hard-hitting one. Raw, real, important for right now, not to turn away.
Christabel Nunoo gives voice to the truth of the pain and anger of young black men and women today. Re-printed here with her permission.
The back-story: Laurie, a member of my mindful self-compassion class years ago, has known this young woman since she was 6 years old. Laurie is now in my Resilience 2.0 course; she told me Christabel, now 26, carried my first book Bouncing Back, around like a bible. Laurie burst into tears herself when she read Christabel’s poem. I now pass it on to you.
Let the transcript read
by Christabel Nunoo
Let the transcript read, “Please I can’t breathe”.
I can’t breathe whenever I see the news and have to turn away. After all, it’s only another normal day. Another rogue post capturing modern day lynchings. A black life whited out.
I can’t breathe because It pains me to say, “I don’t wanna talk about it” Just to hold onto the crumbs of joy in my day. Because again, this happens everyday.
I can’t breathe because it’s bad enough that the idea that one day I won’t be is starting to feel easier than breathing In the unapologetic air of racism.
Let the transcript read: “My stomach hurts”.
My stomach hurts whenever a casual scroll through the lives of friends turns into counting casualties, writing obituaries, and saying names. My stomach hurts every time I get a phone call in the middle of the night. Every time I hear a siren, every time I see red or blue lights. My stomach hurts when I think about how the next name could easily be mine.
Let the transcript read “My neck hurts”
My neck hurts from checking rear view mirrors during long drives in neighborhoods I’m just passing through. From looking over my shoulder as I walk in my newly gentrified hood.
My neck hurts from not sleeping at night, From turning the other cheek, from holding my head high.
Frankly, my neck always hurts because I’m watching my own back. Because living in this world looking like me is dangerous all of the time, and when trouble comes there’s no 911 for me to call.
Let the transcript read: “Everything hurts”
Everything hurts because living a life where most are indifferent to your existence is exhausting. Debilitating. A full time job no pay, no benefits but navigating a place that doesn’t want you there, would rather see you gone. Would make it happen if they had the chance.
Let the transcript read: “They’re going to kill me” a premonition given lying on the floor. Head down hands up, surrendering your life. Begging to breathe. Knowing that the person who’s hands your life now holds never liked the idea that you could live.
So tomorrow, Let the transcript read, “I’ve had enough, I am angry and I’m black and I have every right to be and it’s time America stopped murdering me.”
— Christabel Nunoo