Cave Canem celebrated its New Works Three at NYU’s Lillian Vernon House, featuring the dynamic voices of Antoinette Brim, author of Icarus in Love, Quraysh Ali Lansana, author of The Walmart Republic and Gregory Pardlo, author of Digest and Special guest Patricia Smith, author of Shoulda Been Jimi and Blood Dazzler.
It was the words of Patricia Smith that tore through our flesh and psyche like every bullet ripped through the bodies of Tamir,Rice, Trayvon, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, John Crawford, Orlando Bartow, Oscar Grant, Renisha McBride, Dante Parker, Jordan Davis, Sean Bell, Alonzo Ashley, Kimani Gray, Dante Price, Steven Eugene Washington, Victor Steen, Aiyana Stanley Jones and Wendell Allen.
I sat there trying to quieten myself. I sat listening along with poet Gia Shakur, her head resting on my shoulder, holding hands, our insides shaking and heart breaking with each word an assault. We tried our best to comfort each other. There is no comfort in the sound of crazed cops bullets, choked throats and beatings. Every bullet claiming to be a mistake. There is no place to escape, you sit and you listen. You sit and you break. Because at the end of the evening you will re-enter the world, knowing you never left. You want to scream, your heart, mind and emotions declaring war on the killers of the babies of Black mothers wombs. You curse the wombs of White mothers and fathers who birthed monsters. You listen at the moans and groans of Black audience members. You turn only to see Antoinette Brim’s tears. You stand, go to her and the both of you hug tightly. The words “Only a mother understands” parts your lips and Antoinette responds. “Only a mother understands.”
Everyday and every time a death occurs you remind yourself all are not monsters. You remind yourself of and question friendships, kindnesses and humanities. It’s difficult, so difficult. What do you do and where do you go every time you hear another Black mother’s child has been murdered. Somehow you manage with struggle, fight and determination to forge on with the strength of your faith and ancestors. Knowing shutting off your humanity is not the answer. Tonight hope met me in the form of welcomed hugs, kisses, knowing and understanding eyes, smiles and the sweet words of friends.
(Photo credit Lorraine Currelley)
©Lorraine Currelley 2015. All Rights Reserved.