The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: “My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter” by Aja Monet


“it is what it was”

when your president bails
out the banks
not the students,
it don’t make no difference
if he’s black or blue
all you care about is how much
money you got before
you overdraft on your account
for reading books and writing essays
and all you got to show for it is garnished checks,
cups of noodles, fancy friends,
and terms your family don’t understand
they just wanna know why you got two degrees
and no health care and no decent income
i tell them i got all the ways of talking about the problem
but no way to make solutions
so dear mr. crazy foreign policies, false flags, war
and propaganda, mr. GMOs, chem trails, drones,
and deportations, dear mr. false hopes and bamboozled
dreams, mr. osama bin laden and gaddafi killer,
mr. no power to close gitmo while chastising black folk
to defend your white cousins,
we know trayvon could’ve been your son
sad thing is, he was
he was you, too.

This selection comes from the collection My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, available from Haymarket Books. Order your copy here. Our curator for May is Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie.

Aja Monet is a Caribbean-American poet, performer, and educator from Brooklyn. She has been awarded the Andrea Klein Willison Prize for Poetry and the Nuyorican Poet’s Café Grand Slam title, as well as the New York City YWCA’s “One to Watch Award.” She is the author of The Black Unicorn Sings and the co-editor, with Saul Williams, of Chorus: A Literary Mixtape. She lives in Little Haiti, Miami, where she is a co-founder of Smoke Signals Studio and dedicates her time merging arts and culture in community organizing with the Dream Defenders and the Community Justice Project. Her first full collection of poems My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter was released this month.

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) and Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped Eye Publishing). Her work has been published in North American Review, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Black Renaissance Noire, VIDA, Crab Orchard Review, BOMB, Paris/Atlantic, and Listen Up! (One World Ballantine). Ekere has travelled across the United States sharing her poetry and ideas about healing. She has taught in New York, London, Amsterdam and Rundu, Namibia. Ekere earned an MFA from Mills College in 2002. She is a mother of three girls and an enthusiast of plant medicine making. Her cinepoems, herbal classes, and other work can be found here.


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