KWBU's National Poetry Month Series: Sierra Raheem

Apr 16, 2019

For National Poetry Month in April, KWBU is highlighting four local poets to share what influences their work as well as how they entered into the medium. 

Our second poet is Sierra Raheem.

Raheem is a student at Baylor University majoring in Professional Writing and Rhetoric. She recently performed at Cultivate 7Twelve on March 25th at a spoken word and live music event. She also has had her poetry published in The Pheonix Literary Magazine. 

You can read and listen to more of Raheem's work below. 

Oni's Prayer

The breeze of the southern winds is the ancestral cry for freedom. 

For it rings not on a bell, but a djembe that vigorously vibrates the holy ground 

And raises the dust that formed my being. 

The thumping beat is distant but also familiar, as it is designed to tell a story like my own. 

A brown thrasher perched his legs unto my extended index finger. 

Boasting his freckled, brown breast proudly, he exhaled a single, soft song- 

Discover the song of your ancestors.

A flicker of light fell over his yellow eyes as he flapped his wings and flew  

into the southern wind, rendering a soul-stirring desire to hear the lyrics of the lost. 

I followed the footprints of Liberia to the edge of the murky Savannah water, as a single  

tear escaped my eyes and fell off my cheeks into the stream of ancient cries. 

Bodies of a dark past floated atop: Branded, Beaten, and Bruised.

A tattered drum washed ashore revealing a story unknown to many but sacred to few. 

I closed my eyes as a prodigious rhythm rose through my chest, traveled through  

my arms and electrified my fingertips. 

I tapped the base of the drum, shook the earth, and awakened the souls of the silent. 

The tears flowed

The brown thrasher sung 

The soul of Oni rose  

As the echoes of the drum stifled into a whisper, the Brown Thrasher’s request is  fulfilled:

I am the song of my ancestor. 

Niko nyumbani, Niko huru. I am home, I am free.

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***PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THE CONTENT BELOW FEATURES LANGUAGE  SOME MAY FIND OFFENSIVE. WE DECIDED TO LEAVE THE POEM UNEDITED FOR ITS INTERGRITY AS A WORK OF ART.***

I got a lot to say a little time to say it. 

This poem is for the many black women that reduced their emotions to avoid unwanted and stereotypical labels 

The labeling of a mad black woman is an attempt to reduce a black woman’s humanity

The labeling of a jezebel is an attempt to suffocate a black woman’s sexuality 

The labeling of a broken down black woman that is expected to be perfect and accept disrespect is an attempt to cage a black woman’s happiness

I didn’t understand the full dangers of labeling until I realized I began the slow process of bottling.

To avoid being labeled as an angry, black woman

I avoided conflict

Allowing situations that threaten the validity of my black womanhood to weigh me down like an anchor.

I laid still in the sea of my depression

And like sleep paralysis I could not move or speak

I do not want to be viewed as an angry black girl with a chip on her shoulder

But sometimes,

I want the fiery beast of anger that has kindled for years to singe their eyebrows.

I want to scream 

That I have the right to be mad just like any other person.

How is it a black woman’s sexuality is only okay when it is being exploited?

When I was 12 I went from a size A to a size C,

And almost immediately my physical changes were used against me

To make me hate the woman in me

I cannot even begin to tell you what it felt like when you knew someone wasn’t looking at you but down there 

when teachers click their tongue with disapproving stares

and all I wanted was to wear the same tube top as my white friend Claire 

Almost paradoxical, black women are sexualized so young yet when they take charge of their sexuality 

All of sudden we aren’t worthy and are labeled as hoes, sluts and jezebels

You think I'm lyin'?

When Lil Kim bragged about her big momma thang 

She was told that she was going to be the cause for young black girls to become sexually active

yet

LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Biggie, Nelly, Ying Yang Twins,  Jay Z  I could go on 

Can rap about their big booty hoes and sexual conquests

So black women’s sexuality is only okay when men talk about it?

when Meg The Stallion tells the world she’s a big ole freak 

it’s a problem 

but Blueface can tell a girl to bust it down

Here is the thing - the freedom of my sexuality is my choice to express or not to express 

It is no one else’s right to police my body 

And choose to turn my sexuality on and off  like a light switch

In the words of Miss Maya Angelou

You don’t have the license.

Black women you have to right to be happy especially when it comes to love 

Although I love my black men

There are too many that disrespect their Black women 

Black women are told to hold the weight of a Black man's baggage despite the back pain and aches that come with it 

And don’t get me wrong this is not a new generational attempt at the caging of Black women. 

But the thing is you cannot go around quoting Malcom X

The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman 

When you are doing the same thing

Y’all n***** disrespect Black women like it’s a punch card for free pizza at Pizza Hut 

Honestly what are you gaining?

And don’t tell me that you treat your mothers, grandmothers, sisters with respect - because your decency should extend beyond female members of your family 

They tell us that our expectations are too high and it’s the reason why we can’t get a man or keep a man 

Our expectations too high?

Y'all be wanting:

An experienced virgin 

A beautiful woman with a broken-down spirit

A queen who does not lead

A smart woman that does not intimidate, on top of that-

A woman that will cook and clean,

But I’m not a “pick-me”

and

You live with your parents,

You’re Broke, play 2k all day

Swear you could’ve made it pro-

(his Hudl profile still in his Twitter bio),

But I should adhere to this twisted misconception of “perfection”?

N**** please.

Black women you are beautiful souls crafted by God herself 

You encompass beauty with each sway of your hip and

The fullness of your lips

You are the definition of the water Jesus turned into wine

A miracle,

Light in the darkest placest

A fire burning in caves before mankind muttered words 

you can singlehandedly change the world with the snap of your fingers,

you are the dream planted manifested the Prayer of your ancestors that was granted

so don’t forget who you are and don’t let the world tell you who you are 

you are not defined by the world's labels,  but by your own