The Telephone Game (Poem)

(I decided to write poem in the Safe Haven for BHM like I did last year. Thanks for reading and let’s work to keep Black history alive.)


Passing down stories to ancestors
Passing down stories to ancestors
Pass it down, pass it down
Gather all the children
Gather them all around
Great great of great great of great great
He’s going to tell it now

Who we are
And who we were
How do you know
Who you will be
If you don’t know
Who you are and
Where you came from?

Ships and chains
Sickness and disease
Bodies on top of bodies
Packed in like sardines
Bodies on top of bodies
Cast off into the sea
Land ho
New home
Gather all the children
Gather them all around
Gotta pass it gotta pass it
Gotta pass it down
Pass it down down down

And down, down, down it went

New identity
New name
Don’t speak that language
No more great great of great great
Of great great talks no more
Don’t get used to that family
You probably won’t see them
Slaves praying
Slaves singing
As eyes draw to a shore
A far away place
They don’t know no more
They won’t let us tell the stories
So we’ll tattoo it in their skin
Even when it looks fairer than ours

How do you know
Who you will be
If you don’t know
Who you are
And who you were
And where you came from
And where you lived?

They will tell you.

The world will say
You came here on your own
That you enslaved yourself
They’ll wash you out that history book
Until your children’s children
Begin to wonder
Who they are themselves
And they’ll all say
You’re nothing more
Than the original Black plagues
And gutter trash
Reposting photos
Of Black men hanging in trees
And call it a joke
They’ll say you’re hypersexual
A beast by nature, an animal
That needs to be caged
You’re only good for entertainment
But once you cross the line
It’s time to cut loose

And they will tell you who you are
Until you believe it
Until they no longer have to say it
Because you are living it
A living, walking, breathing
Stereotype of hypocrisy
When you call yourself by
A name
And don’t even know
The ignorance it was born from
When you have all the power
Inside your hands
To make true change
But become so apathetic
You think the time to overcome
Passed away with MLK

No, they don’t have to say a word

And you start looking upon that
Radiant Black skin
Each of you shaped and formed
In your own wonderful hue
As if it’s a cursed birthmark
You can’t get rid of
When you look at your hair
As something ugly
And unnatural
Face it
Many of you don’t like yourselves

But even worse…

Too many too often believe
That just because they are history
There’s no need
To gather all the children
To gather them all around
And remind them
Who they are
How strong they are
How mighty and majestic
A people
They came from
Home is no longer home anymore
Home is where we are
And no one teacher them
That some will tell you to go back
To a place you were snatched from

Your roots are here now
How dare you have the audacity
To think
That being Black and alive
Is enough
If that were the case
You’d still be standing in a field
Bound in shackles
With bleeding welts on your back
From mas’sah crackin’ his whip

We make history every day
We are history
And our stories
Deserve to be told

The pain, the hurt and the scars
The brokenness and the resurrection
The thriving, the struggling
The hope and the endurance
The truth is that
We are not strong
Because we want to be
But because we have to

And when we stop telling them…
When start forgetting them…
We have forgotten
Who we are
Who we were
And where we came from
And instead
We begin to wait
For someone else
Who isn’t us
To tell us
Who we are, were, and will be
Things we should already know
For ourselves

Whether you know it or not
You are slowly being removed
From the shelf
I hope
That you are memorizing
As many pages as you can

We are more
Than a handful
Of honorable mentions
Our history is endless
But you can’t know the end
Until you first know the start
We are not
Monkey, Spook and Darkie memes
I detest it
And I am sorely disappointed
If you were foolish to entertain it

Someone changed the story
And now we’re passing down
Someone else’s tales
Someone else’s depiction
And descriptions

Children, oh children
You had better find out
You had better find out and know
Who it is
That you are

African American
These things have meanings
Strong meanings
Planted deep within them

What better time to know them
Than the present?



One thought on “The Telephone Game (Poem)

  1. Pingback: (Feb. 3) Vol. 7, No. 4 – shnewsletter

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