During Black History Month we remember and honor the works of African American artists.
Audre Lord wrote powerful and intensely compassionate poems about social justice for African Americans, LGBT persons and women, such as her stunning poem "A Litany for Survival":
For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.
Lorde closes her poem with these heartbreaking words:
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.
Lorde insists on the social significance of "speaking": of storytelling and sharing histories. Lorde's poem is an invitation to each of us to "give testimony," to document, record and tell what we have witnessed, what our friends and family members have witnessed and experienced.
What our friends and family members have survived.
Can you write your own "Litany of Survival"?
What hardships, deprivations and social injustices have your and your family members suffered?
How can you document, record and tell others about these tragedies and experiences of pain and suffering?
What is our collective obligation to remember historical events, and how can we accomplish this?