I have been struggling to
hold on to hope and trying
to explain it to others is
like attempting to swallow nails.
Either you feel me or you don't.
I can’t make you understand
what these shoes are like
walking in them, being in them,
and moving forward never
to receive a new pair.

We are to believe justice is here —
that what we’ve acquired is new-age
freedom and I am highly doubtful
of this nuance; I can recognize
a bona fide lie when I see one
and one victory is supposed to
calm a raging people.
One victory is supposed to
ease our pain.
One victory is supposed to
erase centuries of human slaughter
but it does not.

I envision a new world—
one that clothes me in peace,
one that gives me reason to
visualize a future with me
still a part of it—breathing
without fail—living without
my neck being pressed upon
by a boy in blue meant to
serve and protect,
slowly sticking to the earth
of this nation.

Will you honor my body
if I don’t make it?

Will I honor yours?

I want to make myself see
a better walk of life ahead
for all of us—for everyone but
I am not going to sacrifice
my rights and the depth of
those rights for one victory.
We are America—her burnt ends,
bruised ribs, and overcooked
rice.

We are the gritty, the dignified,
the powerful, and the vulnerable,
and we demand change.

Anyone who loves God must also
love their brother and sister.

“Must also,” two words—heavy weight.
How many of us share our
“Must also” wherever we go?
And more importantly, how
many of us truly mean it?

It’s a new year, the same challenges
face us—but we are stronger now.
I imagine hope is sitting
on the other side of a
rainbow I can’t yet see.
And I further believe that if
I keep fighting to hold on to
it, one day . . .

I will have it again.


Painting: William Henry Johnson, “Moon Over Harlem,” 1943-1944. Smithsonian American Art Museum