An honest poem written by Jaee Sumter
Who is I? Who is you? Who is We?
Who do we become in me and you?
I. You. Community
The embodiment of who you are is the truest liberation. You are more than a number, hashtag, second thought, gossip line, opinion, read of judgment and earthly experience.
You are you. MAGIC. You are human.
We are here.
healing. wondering. questioning. learning. exploring. manifesting. being. transmuting, accepting, releasing, empowering. saying no, existing.
me. a person. a daughter. a sibling. a cousin. a friend. someone's kinfolk.
a first-born elder. I am the eldest and come from a mother and grandma of elders. I am spunky and curious. I am honest and don't take foolishness. I am understanding yet sometimes forget to give myself that same grace. I am youthful and wise beyond my years. I am a leader and a follower. I am a visionary and one in the crowd. I am an artist and a poet. I am a muse and curator.
I am me. I am you.
The cheeky eyed kid with a brain so bright and a mouth so sassy. I am a grounded tree of soft sunflowers, wallflowers, magnolias and calla lilies blossoming in a garden filled with my ancestor's roots. I am a cold glass of southern tea & lemonade on a Sunday rising. I am the smell of grandma's honey and papa’s wisdom. I am ma grandpa, grandma(s), momma, dad, auntie, uncle, cousins, sisters, city, lovers, friends and my community.
and I am also not. I am a vibrant thrift store filled with colors -- shopping with ma grandma bc we used what we had.
I am growth.
I am change.
I am liberation.
I am tradition.
I am creative.
I am ritual.
I am power.
I am soft.
I am hard.
I am understanding.
I am hope and hopeful.
my ancestors' wildest dreams, and they are mine. I am my ancestors will, gift and pissy attitude of reparations. I am the vessel that attains. I am god’s gift of healing to heaven and hell on Earth.
I am. I am. I am.
I am a lover and a fighter who choses peace but is not be afraid to fight when it is necessary. I am tired and I am as hopeful as my spirit guides guidance of patience. I am an intuitive genius made of my higher self’s embodiment. I am curious of my inner child's imagination. Walking together. Head and heart held High. Feet moving in the truest direction -- screaming gospels of song and kin.
negro spirituals throughout the decades. I am a bounce song shared amongst the community and made by a us and our neck of hood. I am an oldie that’s been shared throughout the generations saying, “honey child, you don't know nothing about that right there. That's soul”.
the airbrushed face on the t-shirt of a passing loved one. I am the backdrop at a block party with airbrushed masterpieces posing with hands on our hips and a baby in the other. I am sugar, nectar, plum and salt with cayenne pepper. I am the dollar bamboo earrings, Nag Champa and Sugar lip gloss at the beauty sto. I am the newspaper and fruit given on a weekday rising by our elders.
the stories of each person who did my hair and shared their story with me in vulnerability and connection. I am a survivor of life's worst, near death and bone, but I am not the tales of who I should be but rather what I learned from it. I am the taste and smell of grandma pecan pie with ice cream, crawfish boils and paintings found in every Black folk home. I am the representation, trials and love of a ward or hood. I am a witness of many forms of gentrification that ripped our cultures apart. I am the trials and strength of every Black Queer folk who attended an HBCU and/or PWI.
I am a celebration of homecoming.
not a victim, but I am a survivor. I am sometimes hyper independent and sometimes I just need a check-in because our strong friends need love, too.
the repetitive memory of a native chant and a sea of second liners dancing to our own beat. I am from a bloodline of Cherokee, Geechee, Creole and Afro.
one who could not remain quiet. I am the little kid who challenged norms and traditions that needed integration or reframing. and a truth teller who told the truth too much and at wrong times. I am my younger self dream empowered Queerness.
a hip hop and rap bar that understands pain, hope, likeness and trying to make it out of the ghetto while making sure everybody good. "I don't wanna write, I wanna tell you how I feel right now --my Umi said shine your light on the world".
the trap of an Atlanta's slang of shawty. I am the soul of a Jill Scott Long Walk home to sweet love. I am an Anita Baker song of fairy tales that's sung throughout the women in my lineage. I am the African drums of our ancestors' opened arms that calls us back home saying, “come on home baby, its gettin cold outside”.
the soul love of Common and Erykah, "there are times when you need someone, I will be by your side. There is a light that shines special for you and me."
the country and the midtown of short bobs, deep voices and doo ops. I am the gospel of soulful voices and answered prayers-- "and the people say STOMP". I am the jazz of a soft melancholy autumn in New York. I am the Roy Ayes of a Joyful Sunshine Spring of light showers, bare feet, rain dancin and sweet watermelon. I am a Summer Madness and Maze & Frankie Beverely of oneness that sings "Joy and Pain in like sunshine and rain."
the rhythm of my ancestors' hips swaying to the recipe of creole seasoning and gumbo. I am a skating ring on a Saturday night jammin to the natural flow of life.
the kid who was silenced, scapegoated and parentified. I am the adult who speaks loudly, freely and proudly in my convictions & beliefs while honoring others and adapting new ones that feels most true. I do not apologize for who I am, and I will not be anyone that I am not. I have hurt others and have been hurt by others.
a southern comfort of red beans and jambalaya. I am expansion that moves through each cuisine beyond one culture and intersects with others through many lenses of foundation and tradition. I am the pepper of my neighbor’s needs, and they are the salt of mine. I am the elders who shared great wisdom and "tall tales' that were woo woo medicines. I am the ghost stories of Charleston and multicultures of New Orleans.
the culture of a nation and the movement of a protest. I am the voice of inspiration, pain, joy and celebration that changes a nation. I am a “hero” and a “villain” depending on the person's story and who tells it.
an empowerer, weaver, cultural bearer and cultivator with a past, present and future. I am a soul and a body. I am empathy, logic, history and methodology. I am medicine – an elixir of tradition and innovation.
I am you. You are me.
a star seed and I am a regular person. I am an embodiment of integration; I am my hood, and I am also of many hoods in likeness, coast to coast and beyond the seas of currency. I am a “what you see is what you get” kinda person. I am that person who cooks for others and make sure they got extra to bring home. I am that person that make sure I am good, and folks are good too – "so let me know when you make it home safely.
neo divergent and a genius who understands that we are all geniuses with our own forms of learning and processing life; institutionally and in our own backyards + homes. I am an old head and a new breed. I am the hugs shared in a greeting of love.
I am personal, collective and historic.
I am legacy.
I am not
a face, an ass or a number. I am a person with a face, an ass and has a favorite number. The difference is found in the life of who I am and not how others perceive me to be through their own internal reflection.
I am who you are - book and street smart
a person who forgets things and sometimes forget who I am. I am always reminded. I am the kid with all the questions with openness to the answers. I am the possibilities that guide space to wonder & wander.
destruction and I am rebirth. I am a challenger of societal norms that does not include the community's voice. I am a table builder for folks who have been told for too long that their voice at the table does not belong in the decision-making process because “grown folks” are talking.” I am an advocate for intergenerational healing + bridging.
Again. I am you.
a person with many stories that are combined into an illustration of “folk webs” bc charlotte's web needed a little more community involved. I am as intricate and intentional about my shit as a spider and the collective mission of a beehive in raw form. I am the puzzle that needs all of our pieces to make collective sense of a world that is flipped backwardly.
I am charming. I am independent. I am human. I am creative. I am community. I am ratchet. I am honest. I am androgynous in beinghood and in approach. I am all and nothing made into an Omnipresent mural of Earth and natural change that exists within and beyond everyone I meet and have yet to.
Who I am is not what I have or who I am not, I am just who I am. An encompassing river of magic filled with all that is unknown but all that is possible.
I am whole
one who understands and continues the journey of rediscovering that in the purpose of community. I am the baby in a king cake so that means you gotta bring the next cake for everybody to eat together. and we shall pass that down where everyone is fed, and everyone has given.
A tradition. a ritual.
Add to it until it looks and feels more like you. and we. Follow what feels most true and you will have the answers you seek. You are a lineage of golden choirs and savory pralines.
changing my narrative knowing my future kids and their kids and their communities and our people are str8 - a dying wish.
Remember--- I am you. and you are me.
I am community care, and I am self-care. I am liberation. You are liberation. Let’s create a liberated world with who we are.
Self + Community Care
- A collective vision of reflection