Spoken Word Poems by, Hannah Drake

On Saturday, May 16, during the Festival of Faiths program ‘Discovering the Self in Sacred Journey with the Other,’ Hannah Drake opened the discussion with a powerful spoken word poem titled ’10 & 2.’

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In a blog post on the Roots & Wings Website ( http://rootsandwingsart.weebly.com/blog) Hannah writes, “My first poem was 10 and 2, a piece I wrote for my daughter that depicts the trials of a young, black person driving. Too often in our society, driving while black has been deemed a crime. The crowd was silent as I read. I did not know if they understood what I was saying not intellectually, of course, but on a fundamental level that these are the talks that we have with our children because we live in fear for their lives. My daughter is in college, has a 3.5 GPA, and has never been in trouble one day of her life. She is not what society would call ‘a thug’ yet I fear for her life in these days. Not because she has done anything wrong but simply because she was born black. While having ‘the black talk’ may be difficult, it is one that is needed.”

10 & 2
(Poem on Police Brutality/Race Relations)
by Hannah Drake

When my daughter turned 17 I decided it was time that we had “the talk”.
Only this was a little deeper than the birds and the bees
How do you sit your child down and tell them their reality is not everyone’s reality
She walked into the house eyes bright and smiling
17 just a few months shy of adulthood
17 just a few months shy of being a woman
17 just a few months shy of leaving my home
17 almost grown yet I felt the need to explain to her
As she skipped in the house flashing her drivers permit
Just how deep this rabbit hole goes
Only she was not Alice and this was not Wonderland
This was not some psychedelic dream
While most parents can celebrate their child receiving their drivers permit
And send them to the store on their first trip for non-essential items like milk and bread
I had to remind her that a holding her hands in the air in an act of surrendering could lead to her with a bullet in her head, and her body in the street covered with white bloodstained sheets
I had to remind her that a trip to the store for Skittles and tea could be her death sentence
That playing her music too loudly could lead to me picking out caskets
While her other high school friends celebrated their driving permits
I had to explain to her that
That driving while black could be criminalistic
That walking will black could be deadly
That breathing while black some have found to be lethal
That running while black can be costly
That wearing a hoodie could have life or death consequences
That being black in this world meant staying on guard…being smart
I sat my child down and said
When, not if but when, the police pull you over this is what you do
You keep your hands on the wheel at 10 and 2
And whatever you do, do not make any sudden moves
This is not Law and Order
The police do not shoot to wound
They are shooting to kill you
When they come to your window be polite
It was almost like I was giving her a mandate to shuck and jive
But in this world I am trying to save her life
Say, “Yes Sir” or “No Sir” and whatever you do, do not resist
If you give them any reason to kill you this will be their defense
And being black will be your only offense
Contrary to popular belief, for you, Officer Friendly does not exist
They will simply kill you not for who you are but for what you represent
Do not offer any hesitation
Be prepared when they ask for your license and registration
When they tell you hands on your head simply assume the formation
And I know even though you are innocent and have no obligation
I do not want see your face on a T shirt
I do not want your last words to be the next profitable slogan
I do not want the validity of your life picked apart by Facebook and Instagram pics
I do not want who you are as a person reduced to the life that could have been
I do not want your story to be a quick sound bite on CNN
I do not want to be one of those mothers’ weeping in agony in the streets as their child’s blood runs down a drain
And in less than 6 months it will be just another name, another face and you…you will be a memory hidden underneath preachers looking for 15 minutes of fame, phony indictments, corruption and a justice system that has turned to a blind eye to righteousness
So this is my message to you, this is the talk
And I know that this is difficult
Every day we swallow down the bitterness of this reality until we feel like we can choke
And when it’s time for the revolution you and I will be the first ones to revolt
But right now…right now you are simply a teenage girl that wants to drive
And right now…right now I’m just a mother who wants to save your life
10 & 2

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Dancing to the Beat
(Poem on Mass Incarceration)
by Hannah Drake

Contrary to what you have been told
There is no war on drugs
There is no war on crime
As they say in the hood let me drop a dime and put you up on game
Most of the people that I know do not own airplanes
Cannot bring cocaine or heroin into the United States
Yet somehow
You have been sold a lie
And I’m not a surprise
Cause we’ll believe a delusion because somehow that makes it easier for us to sleep at night
Often times it is easier to cuddle up with a lie as long as we can convince ourselves that it is the truth
Because we believed what we were taught
These clear lines of demarcation
That there are good guys and there are bad guys
That there are cops and there are robbers
That the world is black and white
With no shades of gray
You did the crime you did the time
We believed we existed in a world where the scales of justice were balanced
And lady justice was fair, impartial, and she was blind to things like race, class and gender…
But now…now you have the fox guarding the hen house
Crime is now big business
Please don’t miss this
Crime is now seen as profit
If it lines their pockets then why would they stop it?
Somebody’s gotta get paid
From the jumpsuits, the sheets even down to the lunch trays
If they can get rich from stepping on your back then that’s what they’ll do
It’s not that everyone falls through the crack,
It’s that releasing you depletes their bank account so they want you back
So what they do is make it as difficult as they can
On your application when they ask, “have you ever been arrested,” just check the box, I’m sure they’ll understand
And then just to add the cherry on top they put you on paper for the next 3 years
And cause they know you can’t pay parole you’ll be right back up in here
Because you…you are part of a cycle and believe me baby it’s vicious
And cause you’re naïve to the system sadly you miss this
You sweetheart ain’t nothing but a cog in a wheel
When it comes to your life the prison system and government already struck a deal
They build prisons based off of your status in the third grade
Before you learn to multiply the plans have already been made
They ain’t in the business of subtraction they’re in the business of addition
When you rally for advancement they ain’t motivated to listen
So tell me why would they be concerned with schools in your neighborhood being better
Why should they care that a juvenile record is like a scarlet letter
You ain’t nothin’ but a product and they’re in the business of building a brand
When it comes to the prison system one hand always washes the other
From the top all the way down to the bottom, they got the system covered
So take me out to the ballgame cause they’re waiting on your third strike
They got the bases loaded, like Mayweather and Manny they already fixed the fight
And if you got a problem with that ask Ferguson if you’ll end up like Mike
Cause you…you never even stood a chance,
From the womb to the tomb they play the beat and you simply dance
You are the puppet and they hold all the strings
Until you recognize the game nothing will ever change
This is nothing new, simply the thread of oppression that has been woven through the very fabric of this nation
And until it affects you, you will simply call injustice, justified incarceration

___________________________________________________________________________
AINT I A WOMAN 2015
(Poem on Gender)
by Hannah Drake

In 1851 Sojourner Truth proudly stood at a Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio and declared 4 words that 164 years later still ring true
Ain’t I A Woman?
Seeing the femininity of my God given curves
Seeing the 360 degrees of my womanhood
The roundness of my hips
The fullness of my lips
Many would deem this question to be one of a rhetorical nature
And as I stand before you today all that I can say is the same thing that she declared back in 1851
Ain’t I A Woman?
I know that I often times we make this look easy
Balancing the weight of the world on my shoulders while rocking 4 inch stilettoes
Making sure my Mac makeup is flawless to the untrained eye it seems simple
But baby ain’t I a woman?
Sometimes it is easier to wear high heels and conceal the pain that is seeping in your veins
Because you…you were simply in the shower letting Calgon take you away when you discovered the lump in your breast that plagues 1 in every 8 women
You were doing nothing but being you…when they discovered you had cervical cancer
You were simply being a woman on the career path when you discovered age and ambition had robbed you of motherhood
But Ain’t I A Woman
Women want nothing different than you do
Respect has no gender
Money should hold the same value for the same work
Yet when I walk into the boardroom I know that is not my degrees but my D’s that will garner your attention
If I demand respect I will not be seen as a woman on the fast track to CEO
I will be that woman with an attitude…the ice queen
When did demanding respect become synonymous with being a problem?
Only in this world can a woman be on the verge of becoming the leader of the nation
And we do not blog or ask questions about her policies, her thoughts on international relations, her programs to deal with unemployment
Yet we will ask what designer is she wearing?
Why does she wear her hair like that?
Whose shoes does she have on?
Because of course, when it comes to women, that is what society deems as important.
Yet Aint I A Woman?
Only for me can the decision to give birth be debated and decided in courtrooms
And judges that sit on benches decide what I will do with my womb
Anything that I want to do with my body is up for debate
And the stake of my fate is now held in the hands of men
That will never give birth
Who do not understand the trials of being a single mother with 3 kids that you are already struggling to provide for
That will never understand looking through a magazine that deems you as unworthy because you do not fit into a supermodel mold
Who have never been overwhelmed with images that you know you will NEVER look like
Men that will never understand choking down the pain of being molested because your mother looked the other way because he paid the bills
The agony you carry because you know although you said no your mini skirt to society said yes
The sadness in your eyes when your daughter longs to be a doctor but every toy in the aisle encourages her to dream no higher than to scramble eggs and vacuum floors
Yet, AINT I A WOMAN
YOU CANNOT PUT ME IN MY PLACE
BABY WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE PUT IN A CORNER
As Sojourner Truth said so well,
“That man over there say a woman needs to be helped into carriages and lifted over ditches and to have the best place everywhere.
Nobody ever helped me into carriages or over mud puddles or gives me a best place. . .
And ain’t I a woman?
Look at me! Look at my arm! I have plowed and planted and gathered into barns and no man could head me. . .
And ain’t I a woman?
I could work as much and eat as much as a man-when I could get to it-and bear the lash as well
And ain’t I a woman?
I have born 13 children and seen most all sold into slavery and when I cried out a mother’s grief none but Jesus heard me. . .
And ain’t I a woman?
That little man in black there say a woman can’t have as much rights as a man cause Christ wasn’t a woman. Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman!
Man had nothing to do with him!
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down, all alone together women ought to be able to turn it right-side up again!”
So in 2015 I still declare AINT I A WOMAN!

By | 2016-10-28T14:22:52+00:00 May 16th, 2015|2015 Festival of Faiths, Festival of Faiths, Latest News|Comments Off on Spoken Word Poems by, Hannah Drake
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