04 April, 2015: driving while black
READ A POEM
by Mwatabu S. Okantah
driving while black
It is not what you call me,
it is what I answer to …
– African proverb
driving in my car
black wisdom from the ages is turned on its head:
in my car
what i think of my Self is of no significance
(save in my own mind …)
because i am always black while driving
and i know they are there waiting lurking
for some one black
i am a black man driving.
i have my own and countless other blackmenintheircars
stories to tell —
it is the same story; new chapters from works in progress
out of America’s deep black story well.
i am blessed.
i have driven through my youth
and into my elder years —
i am still driving. they are
still there watching.
their fears are always near.
“driving while black” by Mwatabu S. Okantah, from Reconnecting Memories: Dreams No Longer Deferred. Africa World Press, 2004. Used with permission of the author.
ABOUT TODAY’S POET
Mwatabu S. Okantah, an Associate Professor and Poet in Residence in the Department of Pan-African Studies at Kent State University, is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Muntu Kuntu Energy: New and Selected Poetry (2013), in addition to works in many anthologies. As a performer, Okantah has worked in a variety of musical situations, including time as Griot for the Iroko African Drum & Dance Society and in an ongoing collaboration with the Cavani String Quartet. He is the leader of Muntu Kuntu Energy aka Baba Okantah and MKE. A spoken word and original music CD, Guerrilla Dread: Griot Stylee, was released in 2014. Baba Okantah lives in Akron with his wife, Aminah, and their five children.
WRITE A POEM
Think beyond your immediate surroundings.
Tonight is a total lunar eclipse that will last three hours and 29 minutes (with the total eclipse of the moon lasting five minutes). Write a poem about the eclipse or about your favorite constellation or star.