to young artists

I wrote the post below and went to bed only to awake shortly thereafter with a wicked fear in my heart; my room seemed to be filling with swirls of smoke in the dark, like the air was moving about, rustling, animated by some energy but there was no fire. I wasn't certain if there was call for fear, but I was afraid nonetheless, something was amiss, and I promptly called my mother.

This is what she was reading at that moment and shared with me this morning:

I have not labeled myself yet. I would like to call myself revolutionary, for I am always changing, and growing, it is hoped for the good of more black people. I do call myself black when it seems necessary to call myself anything, especially since I believe one's work rather than one's appearance adequately labels one. I used to call myself a poet, but I've come to have doubts about that. The truest and most enduring impulse i have is simply to write. It seems necessary for me to forget all the titles, all the labels, and all the hours of talk and concentrate on the mountain of work I find before me. My major advice to young black artists would be that they shut themselves up somewhere away from all debates about who they are and what color they are and just turn out paintings and poems and stories and novels. Of course the kind of artist we are required to be cannot do this. Our people are waiting....

-Alice Walker In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983)

Last night my mother cooed softly and assuaged my childish fears.
This morning and always my mother pushes me to face myself.
this is love. i could write endlessly about her. i have already begun to...
thank you mumma.

Jamilah Malika



my mother.

my mother made it known to me
immigration was the manner of evasion
that saved us from a precarious fate

some are born there but somehow get here,
though most are condemned to stay
who stays? who goes? who is left behind? who grows?

citizenship is a crap shoot, one in 6 billion shot. As a child, new to this Canada, my mother's words weighed heavy on me each time we hurried past a weary woman pushing a squeaky cart of worthless belongings or a barely conscious beggar muttering madness, my mother would say these words with the hallowed reverence of a benediction, a mantra for our protection, "Om Sai Ram. That could have been us, child, that could have been us."

Instead of envisioning a life of impoverishment in Canada (how odd it seemed here in these paved streets, how entirely incongruous to the reasoning which I understood had led us here) I pictured my mother and I clutching at faded scarves under our chins with one hand and each other with the other by the roadside outside the quiet compound in Qatar that we fled upon returning home to find it empty - no daughters, no husband, no sisters, no father, nobody.

Or sometimes I'd try to conjure up buried memories of the country of my birth and imagine the two of us squatting in stationary silence with lowered eyes as the nameless Lagos market bustles all around and we are lashed over and over by dust and dirty looks of pity, disgust or vacant disinterest. "That could have been us, child, that could have been us."

It wasn't until years later that I began to understand what my mother shared with me in the same breath: compassion, empathy and humanity and a deep understanding that we are all susceptible to, vulnerable to, can fall victim to life, to this very life. It holds as much pain as joy but it is yours to live and change and mold and grow.

i love you mumma.
Jamilah Malika


self sabotage

i hear them laugh
such careless ease
never ponder existence
live each day as they please

why do i keep track?
i must love to look back
revisit where i have been
in search of it will mean
assess where it will lead
how i am to become me

but doubt is my shadow
trepidation puts me to bed
uncertainty haunts me
from deep inside my head

...jam, wondering if i should really post this...


where you been at?

reading more.
read more to write less

sharing more.
to grow love from unfamiliarity

reflecting more.
preparing to live my purpose

fully and with honesty