I am LaShawnda, sister of Kim and Nicolette.
We are daughters of Terry Ann, the daughter of Bessie Mae,
The daughter of Lizzie, the daughter of Mae Emma, the daughter of
I am from coconut oil and bergamot grease
From pinto beans and bananas.
I am from the light.
From home-cooked meals and shadowy corners,
From Thanksgiving feasts are for week-long leftovers.
I am from the iris;
The majestic maple tree,
Whose thick trunk I remember climbing and falling from.
I am from nowhere and everywhere.
From many mothers and no real fathers.
From silence, violence, solitude and perseverance
From hard work tempered with spots of joy.
I am from share-croppers and life-long toilers,
Farmers, gardeners, strong women, and providers.
I’ve been formed through the oppression of my ancestors
The generational resilience of my grandmothers and
The unruffled pragmatism of my Mama.
I am from lies and “keep it in the family”
And God is trying to tell me something
and do unto others as you… well, just do as I say.
I am from stardust and grace, refined in the fire of supernovas.
I am from Gary, Indiana by way of Mississippi and Arkansas
By way of Virginia, South Carolina and Louisiana
By way of Cameroon, Nigeria, West Guinea, and Britain
By way of One Africa seeding the World.
I am from the beginning and the end.
From all that is and all there will ever be.
From salvation and damnation, prophecy and legacy
I am from abundance and sufficiency. I am existence.
~ LaShawnda Jones
from I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America