Against the Current: Collective works on State Violence, identity and Resistance

fighting lineup

I’ve got Assata Shakur in my stroke seat, woman of fire, woman of fight woman of survival. She’s ready to blow everyone else to shreds, she’ll do anything to survive, to thrive under the pressure of the race. Used to  starting down, she’s gonna set the flyest rhythm. Putting down the boom send boom send she’s so speedy she’s got a two million dollar bounty on her fly fly head. Angela Davis is sitting seven seat that smart cookie right behind her. she’s gonna translate good ol assata’s fight fight bite right down the line to the other good good warrior woman. she’s got the smooth drive all long legs and big guns she got the big guns hun. no disguise can hide angela’s strength gotta be scared of her internal clock tick tock nothings’ gonna slip by her don’t you worry. in six and five we got the engine room, the machines going to work pulling everything they can we got joan bird and afeni shakur they are going down going down swinging. clock work clock work they run this boat they got the big moving and the big shaking they doing everything they can. in four we got no less than Audre Lorde the heart of the boat the middle man, the midship to move all mountains to make way for head way to make way. when the coxswain, Alice Walker, tongue of fire, brain of gold and brilliance makes the call for power ten, Audre Lorde unleashes hell on that boat beside. And behind her in three we gotta the up and coming baby bird big legs Chrissy Teigen model civilian warring the war tweet by tweet no bullshit regurgitation for this fly fly three. In two behind her we got Frances Beal, nicknamed the put you in Jeopardy she got the double hit two too powerful for everybody to not listen. and in bow, number one seat we got Rosa Parks, good at following good at setting the boat she’s got balance and drive she sits down in the number one seat she crosses the finish line first they all cross the finish line first even when the referee gives them penalty gives them hell nasty nasty nasty they the strongest they the best. even with the penalties they win. they winners.

Afterword: This poem is imagining what a rowing shell full of black revolutionary figures would look like. I chose the sport of rowing over something more contemporary like baseball, because I felt that the image of the boat worked well with our class theme of the current. They are pushing against the current, the wind, the difficulties that nature and the other competitors would throw at them. But they persevere, leading the way and eventually winning. Each of the other poems was about individual women, but this poem ties them all together, and honors the strength and grit and grind of the black female revolutionaries we have studied in this class as one collective force. In rowing, their strength is added together, becoming one unit, and unifying against the oppressive opponent. Each rower/revolutionary is important in her own way, and where they may sit in the boat highlights her strength. It uses the experimental form of prose-poetry without grammatical bounds to explore the movement of the boat and their revolutionary work. 

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