Explaining Him to My Daughter: For Imamu Amiri Baraka, a poem, my first in near a decade

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By asha bandele

Explaining Him to My Daughter
For Imamu Amiri Baraka, a poem, my first in near a decade

Most of all I loved Amiri because he loved Us

He wasn’t especially warm or fuzzy,

Didn’t have any pithy new age shiny light magic dust to blow on
your broken place,

His juju was complex

Was in full response to the measure of the wounds 500 years

He was, I explain, a real healing,

He didn’t laugh a lot or frivolously

He was openly imperfect, a gateway for us

To accept our own humanity, the frail and strength of it

What he was

Was present

At everything, always there and not

Just in the cut

But everywhere there

The kind of there

That lets you know

You are there too and not just there but




And front and center because


The world does belong to us too

The world has space and desire for us in the be-do-dee of its

And what a gift!

To we who have had so much taken

This was the greatest giving

You matter

This man and that gift, and his always giving it at every

Turn and when he did smile

It was often at the smallest person in the room, sometimes,

You, Nisa,

He said to you

Hey! Hey You Yes You Little Person!

Come on and let me hear your be-do-dee and