Maya Angelou lived a long, lovely life, full of daring, accomplishment and acclaim. I did not know that her grandfather was a Trinidadian.
Still I Rise was the first poem in my under-educated literary life that moved me with its direct relevance to my own life as a descendant of enslaved peoples and perhaps more so, because it so expressed the exuberant defiance which black women need (ed) to leap over sexism and marginalisation. It has that poem of its time resonance, full of black feminist power vibes.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
The lines come to you at moments: “You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies…” and it is a poem of such triumph “Out of history’s shame, I Rise…..
Now, I am thinking of the last line, “I am the dream and the hope of the slave” as the region struggles with inequalities and with discrimination, especially against the LGBT community. That we would wish to perpetuate laws that make criminals of people who love other people of their own sex seems far enough away from the dream of emancipation. Can we not remember that slavery was also justified in the name of religion?