The poem, which is taken from her first, recently released book of poetry, titled ‘Four Years in Chrysalis’, reflects on the tragic deaths of Black Americans like Trayvon Martin and George Floyd. In her poems, Aisha Tariqa notes how Black lives seem to have little value compared to the lives of white people in America and how Black lives are seemingly disposable to America at large. Her poem also emotively evokes how the suffering and tears of the Black community often go unnoticed and unaccounted for by the American public.
More details can be found at https://www.aishatariqa.com/landing-page
As May Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, Aisha Tariqa Abdul Haqq wants her readers to reflect on the impact the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis had, and continues to have on the mental health of the Black community.
The release of the poem also coincides with sobering new figures from NPR. Their investigators uncovered that almost 140 unarmed Black men and women nationwide have been fatally shot by police officers since 2015, which sadly is just one facet of the violence which the African American community is exposed to.
However, Aisha Tariqa writes her poetry because she is not without hope, and the young poet states that she has observed a recent change in public discourse and opinion regarding the sanctity of Black lives. She has witnessed an increasing sensitivity in public conversations about violence in and against the Black community, and articulates that it has become increasingly taboo to speak disdainfully of Black lives.
To capture this change in public sentiment and awareness, and to further progress the ideologies of the broader American community, she is proud to share this poem with readers.
“Hey Black man
What were your thoughts when your body collapsed to the pavement?
Was the slow motion noticeable to you, too?
Did you too notice your body gyrating from the force of silver pieces?
Dressed in black
Could you feel his presence?
As your life entered the ether that matched his cloaked essence?
Did you know his words
As he shared his thoughts?
On the point of his actions
And the pain that he wrought?
Was your happiness still tangible as you took your last breath
From the memory of your daughter when she slept on your chest?
Great dark mass, Black man
Your soft flesh as you rest
On the ground
Body hot, body loved
In this red spilling, in this mess
Beautiful black man
I remember your smile
Teeth white, glistening
Not unlike the stars
Black man, what is your place
If not this surface on which you lay
Is your place in the hearts of the many who glean wealth?
Or are you the continuous pariah
Representing the chains on which you hang?
Both the gold
And the iron
From the start, I have honored your courage to continue your walk
You have been my father and my brother
Both my reverend and my crack-head, Black man
And I have loved you no less
When will you realize that you are magnificent
Able in the eyes of those who do not yet know it
It is time that you forget what you have been told about your essence
You are not black in heart
You are only ripe in flesh
Like all the things which are ready to be picked
Not like those which are hung from a branch and fallen”
Aisha Tariqa wrote this latest poem during the Covid-19 crisis, at a time in which the already excessively high rates of depression in the Black community were skyrocketing. Yet, the mental health crisis was impacting all Americans. Living in confinement, glued to their phone screens with no interference, the American community could not escape the grievous and lamentable death of George Floyd. Aisha Tariqa’s words capture how she felt to see the historic plights of Black Americans cast on a large screen for the world to see and finally sympathize with. As the world screamed in collective outrage, marching and loudly airing their grievances, Aisha Tariqa began writing.
Aisha Tariqa Abdul Haqq is a passionate poet and advocate for mental health and social justice in the Black community. Interested readers can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @AishaTariqa.
A spokesperson for the poet said, “The death of George Floyd was excruciating to watch, but no less than that of the equally tragic Trayvon Martin eight years earlier — the only change is that these circumstances now have a world stage. Black people today still cry torrid tears for young Trayvon Martin, just as they did in 2012; they still possess that raw pain in their hearts, but now, for the first time, the world cries with them.”
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