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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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