In the Family · Writing Mentors

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou, & Thoughts on 2020

Please note, the art in this post is by: David Lupton, for the Earthsea series.

THOUGHTS ON 2020

Wow my friends, so much has happened since my last post…this year has been so brutal to so many, in so many ways…I am left without words, honestly. That is a little embarrassing for a writer to admit, but…I want to find words. I want to find words to express how I feel about everything going on, and to help future generations to know how important this year was and how, hopefully, we achieve change.

Recently I have seen some “suggested readings” posted online for those who live with white privilege, such as myself. I wanted to share the list, but then I hesitated to share it; it seemed like it could come off as, “Oh, look how progressive I am, praise me”, and turn the focus back on myself, rather than on the fact that black lives matter. What if I read it and shared the list and people said, “That’s not right, why did you think that would help?”

My fiancé told me, that’s okay, share that – share that you felt worried that you would appear fake or self-focused, because so many eyes are online these days, that it’s hard to know who is real and who is merely pandering. Discuss what you’ve read, ask questions, hear experiences of people of colour. I felt his advice was spot-on.

SUGGESTED READING

One suggestion was this poem I’d like to share, by Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou

Still I Rise

by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod 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 backyard.

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
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Another suggestion was the Earthsea fantasy series, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Yes the author is not a person of colour, but her protagonist is. I tried to read the first book as a kid, but it didn’t grab me. Perhaps it was meant to be that I read it now.

Whoever and wherever you are, share your thoughts in the comments, your ideas for what else I could read, or what 2020 has been like for you so far. Or share some of your own writing from this year!

Until next time,

Chaitanya

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