This day has always been tough for me to reconcile. As a woman of Black and Cusabo decent, I was raised Baptist but never took to the religious teachings of the bible. Instead, my loyalty belonged to the Creator, and Mother Earth. Although my faith may look a little different from that of my immediate family, I know we all hold this contradiction in our hearts and minds as mixed race people. Our memories are long, and are often weighted with the fact that we are not supposed to be here.Yesterday, I received a request from a friend for a poem, which is to be read during her thanksgiving dinner. I thought about it for a minute, and wondered if I could pull it off. What do I say? How do I talk about genocide and gratitude at the same time? To my surprise, the words came as quickly as the thoughts, and within minutes I had a rough draft. Creativity is like that. Being called to action, is like that. We respond, in kind, to avail what has always been within: an imperfect offering that is achingly human; a wholeness that contradicts, and humbles us.
Today is the 47th National Day of Mourning, also known as thanksgiving—both are our reality, no matter how we live out this day. In honor of the water protectors on the ground at Standing Rock, N.D., for Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, and for my friend, Rhea, I humbly and imperfectly offer these words.
We break this bread for the nourishment of change.
Our gathering together is not by accident.
We were destined to be family.
We were called to come to shore,
to pray and revive community.
We break this bread for those who cannot,
for family and friends passed,
for those hanging on by a thread.
We come today for our children, and their children.
We break this bread for the next seven generations,
for all our relations in this web of life.
In solidarity we sustain the task of showing up,
today and everyday after.
We break this bread in spirit, understanding
the front line is anywhere our hearts are.
With this harvest we will continue
to fortify the seeds of hope.