Sadly not a lot of teens are even aware of who Maya Angelou is. Sure they have heard of her. They might have even read about her in school but they may not have had the same exposure that my generation had with artists like her. On Facebook a former friend and I were discussing what he described was his offense taken at a comment in a movie. I was a little taken aback, not because of the offense he had taken but by the ignorance of his defense. Being from the south, I have had the privilege of a first hand history lesson of civil rights in Alabama. Black history was not just taught it was required. I remember in school each student had to do a report every year for February in which we had to report on 28 different pioneers of black history. Maya Angelou was always one of my favorites.
I remember the first time I read Phenomenal Woman, my mind was completely blown. I remember thinking, how proud I was to be a black woman and that I wanted to be that woman. I wanted to be phenomenal… I felt a lot different when I read ‘Still I Rise‘ , I was on fire! Whenever I felt down and out I would read that piece. Whenever I felt like I could not go any farther I reminded myself to RISE. I reminded myself that I was not a ‘Caged Bird‘. I was free and I could ‘leap on the back of the wind‘. I so want that for our young women and men today. I want them all to stop being caged by the media. To stop being caged by ignorance. To stop being followers and learn to be leaders. I want them to understand that they as individuals are too precious of a commodity, to be anything less than who they really are. As I sit here. I shed a few tears not because I am sad but in celebration of the life of a truly great woman. I pray that one day in time I can be the inspiration to others that she was to me. I want to be that one that inspires my little sisters of life, to RISE. Rest in Peace Maya! You will never be forgotten
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.