it is morning
the day after history was broken

your mother still carries the weight
of last evening
it is a slow dawning
precious few tears
to water stain these moments
there is something
languishing luxe on thick
tongue
is this real?
then he spoke

and the mist of wet coating my eyelids
became one renegade tear
a river down my cheek
but there was no massive
flooding over
no great ocean of emotion
there was only calm
only the cool of exhale

the weight of generations sliding
slowly over bones
it was real
real like stone and flesh
but this was never about victory
never really about the spectacle of elections
know that these things happen with or without us

this was about you, Elaiwe
you entered the world
around the same time this black man decided
he had the audacity to be president
to hold highest office in this country that
still holds the weight of an enslaved people
people who look like you
like me
like us
a country that had problems with his name
a country that will one day stumble over yours
one that still mistakes boys with your face
for something other than precious
something other than beautiful
something point blank shot in the back
or hail of bullets raining like blood shower
not content to crush your spirit
they hunt and hover
shoot to kill

this same country
celebrates a black man today

your grandfather believed
before it was popular
before it was real
before the rest of the world
entertained the possibility
because that’s what grandpas do
they believe
he believed in you when I feared he’d just be disappointed
believed in a President Barack Obama when most feared
he’d just be disappointed
but every day
he believed
when he came to this country 30 years ago
for better life
he believed
worked his way through college
collecting degree after degree
he believed
even when his back was bent broken cleaning America’s excess
from sticky movie theatre floors
when told his accent too thick
his face too brown
he believed
told this so often for so long
they had to switch to telling him he was too old
then he believed
in us
when you came alongside Barack
his belief grew like the faith only elders hold
last night his hope met his faith in reality
it was the happiest I’d seen him
since he met you

you born under a cloud of uncertainty
a cacophony of questions
still he whispered lullabies of hope
told you
the story of this man they called Obama
what his existence meant for yours
held you in strength and love
and I know you were listening
because at two years old his face beaming from
newspapers and news report
shakes you into a hurricane of
chanting
and dancing
O-ba-ma
O-ba-ma

yes we can

and yes, there is still so much work to be done
still injustice
still poverty
still love being legislated away
still babies brown eyed and curious like you
being bombed out of homes
and schools
and land
still broken families
and broken dreams
and broken bodies on sidewalks like
broken bottles

but maybe now, there is a tunnel not a vacuum
maybe there is a light
maybe there is a thing called hope that sings
and dances with you

you
will always know a Black man as president
and that is as good a beginning as any

So Elaiwe,
this is what your mother asks of you:
create a life worth celebrating
trust that you have the tools to do what is good
and not what is easy
love your people like life depends on it
because your life depends on it
be that smiling revolutionary

because when the world threatens to eat & attack
what’s good in you
just remember
the world celebrated a black man today
for his brilliance
for his resilience
for his possibility
handed him a river of trust
and hope
and faith
said “we believe in you to help us through;
believe in us to hold you steady.”

tomorrow we will face reality
today
today this moment still looms large like
north star
like ancestors guide
like grandpa’s belief of
this black man who became President
you, black boy, creating your own footsteps
this is guiding light
this is you birthed in possibility
And not fear
and continue chanting
dancing
laughing
smiling
growing
living
changing
challenging
chanting
El-ai-we
El-ai-we
yes you can
yes you can

Obama Yes We Can Poem Kid

Bassey Ikpi is a writer, poet and mental health advocate. She is the founder and spokesperson for The Siwe Project, an organization dedicated to eliminating mental health stigma in the global Black community. She is currently working on her first memoir. 

 

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