The Day She Woke up White by Norma Heathman

Poetry from the Realm of the Ancestors.

The day she woke up white
She doubly realized
It had always been that way.
The po thang, blinded just so,
Thinkin she was the twinkle
Up in massa’s eye.

But that day did come
When she saw him right
And heard his echoes
In her own song,
Clawing her mind,
Achin her body,
Steady callin her
Out her Name!

Then she seent the ripples
Movin out across the All –
Everything –
Touched and tainted
By his twisted Word,
Sacred Milk stolen,
Strained and bleached
And fed in troughs
To be lapped like dogs,
Dependent and barred
By the hand that feeds –
And kills –
In a single swipe

And calls it
The Way of a Nation.

But that ain’t me,
She said.

(Oh, but it was.)

She looked down
At her hands now
As his brown paper bag
Metrics computed,
And she saw through it!
Where hands had been,
She now saw inside em:
The Nile rushing as her veins,
The bushy tufts of Afraka
Lining her Valleys
Where Caves lead to Oceans
That birth civilizations
That birth civilizations
That birth civilizations!

Then she saw through that, too.
The sting of his words
As poison of the mind
And body
And heart
And soul.

In truth, he don’t know
What “civilized” mean
Beneath his choppy definition,
Clumsily paved to enslave.

She saw his ignorance then,
Like a baby who lost his mama.
And she knew that’s just what it was.
Cuz can’t no kinda baby
–  White or otherwise –
Thrive without his Mama’s Milk.

And that put it just so
So that she could finally see
Her reflection in both ways:
His funky old funhouse mirror way
And all that she was beneath it.

So knowin now
Who the fuck she was,
She dipped into her Womb
And flicked that reflection
With her pointer in her thumb
And watched it slide and slither,
Makin waves and ripples
That revived lost lives
Of so many drown,
Kilt in cold blood,
Left like rotten fruit
And forgotten –
All for the dollar of it.

She felt then all the forgettin
Resurrectin,
Risin to the top of her skin
Like melanin . . .

And that’s when she heard the song.

First it started out real soft:
Ubuntu is the seed, you see

Then, louder it grew:
Of the soil and the Tree,
Mother, Father, Child as One,

As she recalled the rhythm
And began to hum along:
Both the Scarab and the Sun.

Now she sang:
These severed ends
Must love again

And shouted:
That we may remember
What we knew back then:
Every seed is Ours to feed.

Now she danced all the glory
The Ancestors didn’t dance
Couldn’t dance
Couldn’t shout
Couldn’t sing
Couldn’t speak!

Ubuntu is the seed, you see
Of the soil and the Tree,
Mother, Father, Child as One,
Both the Scarab and the Sun.
These severed ends
Must love again
That we may remember
What we knew back then:
Every seed is Ours to feed.

As the song came back
And filled her body,
So did all the things forgotten –
The songs and stories came back!
The Ways and the Knowings, too!
And the ways of growin
Across continental drift,
Reshaping a nation
After the raping of a culture
Generation after generation –
Yet still we rise –
Not invincible
But certainly magical,
The Mothers and the Fathers
Of the people of Earth:
Forgotten, disgraced, degraded
But rising all the same!
Singing all the same!
Dancing all the same!

And then she saw:
It was the shoutin out
That brought it back
And turned the forgettin
Into re-membering
Resurrecting
Ma’at
Ubuntu
Unity
ONE.

She saw that was his fear all along:
The knowing of ONE,
For then he’d lost control,
Possession
Of our souls,
If we knew
We are ONE.

She saw then
How they tried to paint her
As their own,
Not in love
But to claim her soul,
So she twirled said,

Fuck No.

Then went on about her singin and dancin and shoutin out

Norma Heathman
Jazz Poet 

[Featured Artwork by Sarah Asia]

MORE ABOUT NORMA HEATHMAN

Norma Heathman is a Jazz Poet who lived in the Harlem Renaissance era and worked as a wet-nurse until she quit this life at a ripe young age of forty. She now writes from the Ancestral Realm through her great granddaughter. Together they explore the dynamics of race relations in america both old and new, exploiting themes, overlaps, and double standards, all in the way of flippin back our minds to right-side-out from this sneaky Western paradigm that has us hating our own Mother-Source, and therefore our own selves.

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