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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To Be Young, Gifted and Black

Last night the Dream Keepers and I met for the second time this fall. As usual, our time together begins slowly. We would rather talk and eat than write. Giggles abound. I'm tempted to be more teacher than facilitator. Both are necessary--but I sense that the young women work better for the facilitator.

Last night we read together the poem, HOWL by Nikki Giovanni from her new book of poems, Acolyte. The poem is dedicated to singer Nina Simone, who write a song called To Be Young, Gifted and Black inspired by a play of the same name written by Lorraine Hansberry. After reading the poem, the two young women decided to write on this theme. Here is their work. As usual, it is moving to me and I hope for you.

Young, Gifted, and Black
by Natalie Branch

I am young, smart, and African American. I know that may seem like a little, but it's saying a lot more than you know.

To people like my sister, being young means not having your own voice and always having to prove yourself. To me, being young means adventure, new ideas, and a chance to learn all that you can.

To people like my brother, being smart means you know everything, you can go to school and not pay attention because it's review. To me being smart is a stepping stone to success and it is the path to get me closer to my destiny and God.

To people like the kids on my block, being African American means to be tough, to be a thug, to despise homosexuals, to be in and out of jail, to make sure no one disrespects you in front of your friends. To me, being African American means you have a chance to make a name for yourself like many of our ancestors did in the past. To me it means to take advantage of the opportunity life has thrown at us. To me, it means not always taking the easy way out. It means to take pride in what I do and do it well.

I feel that as a culture we as a whole have disappoionted our ancestors. I am pretty sure that they did not fight as hard as they did for us so that we would just give up and throw our lives away.


The Benefits of Being Young, Gifted and Black
by Elisha Branch

The benefits of being young, gifted and black
is that you can get up even when you're flat.
The benefits of being young, gifted and black
is that you say what you feel and don't take it back.
The benefits of being young, gifted and black
is that if you do make mistakes and are not afraid to look back
The benefits of being young, gifted and black
is you can accomplish all goals stack by stack
The benefits of being young, gifted and black
is that you care for all dogs and cats.
The benefits of being young, gifted and black
is that you don't let your problems to cause you to lack
The benefits of being young, gifted and black
is that you're wonderful and that's a fact!