27 January 2009

Can you hear the color of my tears?

Excellent poem by my 2nd mother. Reflects so much about the election, the inauguration, the times we are in, being a mother, being a Nigerian American.

Love her and my 2nd set of siblings.


A poem
Dr. Gloria Bilaye-Benibo

Can you hear my tears?
No, not my cry! But my constant silent tears
The tears of this African woman
Whose children, like you were born
Not on the soil of their father’s native land
But the soil of their father’s educational voyage
Soil brutally scared by the thorns of slavery
Try to hear my tears
As my beautiful young daughters carried on their tiny shoulders
The weight of being the children of African immigrant parents
Aware that their experiences were different from other children’s
They were neither truly African Nor American

Can your hear the color of my tears?
As I proudly welcome my first son
Into a world full of hope and promises
On same day as President Reagan’s birthday
It was a sign: He will some day be the President of America
Filled with joy and happiness I appropriately named him
To reflect the core of my emotions
And so I raised him to be Godly, respectful and smart
But can you hear my tears-silent and deafening!
As his friends made fun of him and called him names
Names like ‘African-booty-scratcher’ and other too awful to pen
As he realized that his heritage was also his biggest barrier

Can you hear the color of these tears?
As years later I welcomed yet another son
Born at such a time perfect time when things were looking up
And once again I named him to reflect the emotions of his birth
Now surely I can better provide for him
His will be much better experience in a different place
Like his siblings, I raised him to be Godly, proud and studious
But can you hear tears?
As I saw the pain on my baby boy’s face
As he came to realize that the dream was just a dream
African American meant a heritage that is so sweet and yet so bitter
A heritage marked by pride and rejection

Can you hear my tears
As my tired feet carried me into my house
As I hear the now familiar CNN election breaking news jingle
I looked up at the TV screen
And saw a smiling face much like my own sons
Barack Obama- Democratic Presidential Nominee
Please say you can hear my loud tears
As I gently touched my kitchen counter and
And stared into the face of my baby boy
And muttered to no one in particular
He did it! He actually did it!
My God! He did it!

Can you hear my tears?
As I fell on the floor of my bedroom
On that memorable November fourth night
Heart-pounding, I read the words on the TV screen
President-Elect Barack Obama!
You couldn’t hear my tears?
As the drops, now familiar with my hurt and fears rolled down my cheeks
As each drop ballooned with my pride
Until the last drop escaped
And was carried into the dark November sky
But quickly came back down to my soil thirsty for hope
And watered the future for my own children

Can you hear my tears?
Like so many mothers of race and voyage
Like so many mothers of daughters and sons
Yes children who look just like you
But children who never dared to dream
Please hear my tears as I mumble your name over and over
Barack Obama! Barack Obama!
Like you, my children’s names were strange
Like you, they were suspected before they were accepted
Like you, they were distrusted before they were trusted
Like you…So much like you….
Can they dare to dream?

Can you hear my very colorful loud tears
And freeze the moment in history
As I watch you place your hand on the mighty word of God
And yet again I read the words on the TV screen
President Barack Obama!
Listen…I am sure you hear my tears
As I stand a little bit taller
As I shout into the quiet street in my beautiful neighborhood
Yes they can! Yes they now can!
Yes they most certainly can!
Yes! They can now call proudly and truly themselves
Can you hear my tears?
-Dr. G. Tamunoibim Bilaye-Benibo

1 comment:

I share my thoughts and would love to read your thoughts, too.