Thursday 20-10-2016 - 15:54
#ReclaimBlackStories is NUS Scotland Black Students' campaign to share the reality of Black history and what it's like to live in Scotland at the moment - as told by Black students.
For Auntie Bernie
I dig desperately in my memory to find your stories, your manifesto¬,
whispered, weaving through cigarette smoke signals and hair grease.
Just so you know, it was my goal all along to get you talking,
to have you start from the beginning and tell me like it was.
I was addicted to the molasses in your voice and the sepia on your tales of
porches, empty purses, marriages, men, cotton and crop
You told me raising a family on your own while the parents lived in the house
You had me convinced that being a Black Woman in the 50’s was easy
Easy as the Bundt cake you made for everyone’s birthday, every year
Easy as a house doubling as a hair salon doubling as a play pen
Easy as cooking chitlins while babysitting
Easy as 2 cigarettes in the morning to sharpen the ax on your tongue
and the one by the kitchen stove–
you made womanhood look like a victorious war zone.
When I asked you, how did you do it? How did you survive?
You never had an answer besides: It’s just what you do...
There seemed to be no solace for the Black woman experience between the
of the hot comb and the clank it gave to the stove as it heated up.
But you were still here.
So that is where I kept my hope:
In between the peas you made me shell
On the pants you made me iron so that I could practice (and get a man)
Under the lemon tree in your backyard
and your rose bushes I was so afraid of
I kept my hope in my hair–
your meditation bowl for time travel
Your masterpiece through bending fire into confidence
and a young girl into a scribe.