by Kellen Gaither
I can still feel the pain and anguish that my ancestors had. My adrenaline heightens and my blood turns cold as I am reminded of what they went through. My gums throb and swell every time I think of my ancestors having their teeth ripped from their skulls for disobeying. My back arches inhumanely when I recall my ancestors being tied to wooden posts and whipped until the white meat of their backs was visible. My neck throbs and my wrists feel heavy when I see pictures of Africans in chains escorted onto slave ships. Chills go up my spine and my cheeks go red with shame and embarrassment when I remember that we were left naked when people auctioned off our souls. My eyes fill with tears and I can’t hold back a longing wail when I think of a mother being separated from her children to work for another plantation. My toes curl when I recall my ancestors getting their feet cut off for trying to run to freedom. My fingers shake as I skim the pages of my college textbook, knowing that my people were once killed for doing the same thing. I can feel it. I can still feel the pain and anguish my people go through. My adrenaline heightens and my blood turns cold as I witness my people’s hardships. My throat throbs and swells as I yell, parading through the streets to demand equality for my people. My back arches inhumanely when a thirteen-foot fire hose is blasted on me. My neck throbs and my wrists feel heavy when I see African Americans paraded into jail cells over crimes like shoplifting snacks and a gram of weed. Chills go up my spine and my cheeks go red with embarrassment when I see my people trying to explain to other races why ‘nigga’ should not be in their vocabulary. My eyes fill with tears and I can’t hold back a longing wail when I see a mother, a sister, a daughter hovering over a dead body, his hairbrush not too far from his limp hand. My toes curl as the police threaten my people with dogs and tasers when they don’t get to the ground fast enough. My fingers shake as I pull my car over to the side of the road, quick to turn down my music and present my hands on the dashboard, silently praying that I make it out alive. My God, why must I feel this way? Me, my people, we just want freedom. We want the next generation to feel— to feel love, happiness, strength. So I hope and I pray when it’s their turn, they can feel too.
Kellen Gaither – 2021 Featured Poet – is a junior from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a psychology major with a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies who is also working on her prerequisites for occupational therapy. Beautiful Black Boy, Businessman, Cantu Bantu, The Hood Isn’t Even Ours Anymore, Not Allowed to Hurt, The Talk