Inheritance. I inherited my mother’s smile and her mother’s eyes. My mother’s ability to sway to a rhythm but struggle to stay on the 2s and 4s of the beat. I have inherited the ability to make a joyful noise but unsuccessful at harmonizing outside my own voice. The ability to create with my hands but not yet with my body. I have inherited her struggle. While I have inherited the will to move further than my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother, I have also inherited their intergenerational doubt.
Though doubt is the recessive gene, Uncle Sam does a good job of making sure it passes on to his unwilling victims. I must work harder; outwork my white counterparts to be heard and seen. Not too loud. Not visible. Not too intimidating. Just enough to grasp the scraps of Affirmative Action. Enough to be believable to them and me. Enough to power her and the ‘hers’ of tomorrow.
Pinnacle the Poet, along with Black Ink Monks, Johnson C. Smith University’s oldest-standing, non-Greek organization, provides us with a stinging verbal reality for Black women and the importance of voting. In the spoken word poem entitled EmpowerHER, Pinnacle the Poet, a 29-year-old Black woman, provides a gripping insight into what it is like to inherit fear and belief by being transparent and describing why she chooses this election year to vote for the first time in her life. The video also features commentary from Nicole Crump, who offers a summary of the statistics of Black women and their role, yet lack of representation, for the right to vote.
Written for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s, EngageHER: JCSU Edition event, the performance set the tone for the evening as we basked in the glory that is Black Girl Magic. The event was moderated by media personality “Chirl Girl,” with keynote speaker Congresswoman Alma Adams, Ph. D, and a host of influential women of color. EmpowerHER’s honest and revealing diction greatly summed up the evening by telling the familiar story of Black women as we celebrate the centennial of women’s right to vote – fighting for everyone else’s future while consciously placing ours in the backseat.
From Pinnacle the Poet depicting what it would have been like for her grandmother to vote at the age of 29, to Congresswoman Alma Adams, Ph.D. detailing her journey to public service after attending classes at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCATSU), it was evident that Black women have something to celebrate after decades of constantly being left off of the ballot—the true definition of creating the table when no one offers you a seat. This poem serves as a great reminder that, while it is our duty to participate in something so basic, it is also our inherited responsibility to pursue change even when hope is bleak.
Please enjoy this spoken word by Pinnacle the Poet and Black Ink Monks.
To see the full Engage HER with Johnson C. Smith University, click here.
In this election year, the Library is partnering with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) offering programs like this one to encourage everyone to look back at what has been accomplished in the past and to move forward with empowerment to make a difference in one's own community. To learn more about Engage 2020, click here.
This blog was written by Sabrina Robinson, Sr. Library Assistant - Teen Services at West Boulevard Library.