If You Must

Update: June 11, 2020
I came across this poem the other day and forgot I wrote it. Immediately it struck me the wrong way. Mostly due to seeing the word “slave” through a new lens. Over these past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to listen and learn from anti-bias/anti-racist educators and something I see time and time again is Impact > Intent. It was never my intent to be disrespectful with this term but I can see, now, how its use and delivery is harmful and triggering to folx, particularly Black people.

My first instinct upon seeing it here was to delete it. Then, perhaps just edit. I was embarrassed, but then I thought, “that does nothing but hide my ignorance.” It it needs to come down like a confederate statue, so be it. But until then, let this be a reminder that our words have meaning–they carry more weight than we’d like to remember.



Originally written March 25, 2020

If you must be a slave, be a slave to presence,

Not bottle
Nor validation

Nor sex or whim. 

But an ever-present slave to presence.

Let it guide you,
Let it construct you,
Let it lead you all your days

Forever look to it for consult,
And let it tell you what to do.

If you must be a slave, be a slave to presence.