Black Sheroes

My Black heroes don’t drop names like Fendi Gucchi Prada

My Black sheroes rock afros like Angela Davis and Assata

But my sheroes are more than a trend and they’re bigger than a hairstyle

For their people they risk death, imprisonment, and exile

They’ll give you an education in gender, race, and class

So for real knowledge you need to honour Afrikan women present, future, and past

Yes, Malcolm, Garvey, Huey are important to feel

But I’m repping Mary Prince, Winnie Mandela and Zora Neale

If you’re only telling the history of Black men then there’s a half that you missed

When we miseducate our brothers they can’t relate to their sisters. 

I’m talking the foundations whose praises our people never sing

But without civil rights queens like Septima Clark, Diane Nash, or Ella Baker

There would be no King

See my sheroes are hip hop in its original incarnation

Because it ain’t real hip hop if it don’t pay its respects to the mothers of the Black nation

Remember the first drum beat begins in the womb

So brothers need to centre themselves in the spirit of Mama Oya, Isis, and Oshun

Taking it back to Africa there’s a herstory we should prize

Like Yaa Asantewaa and Queen Nzinga leading their nations to rise

Because Dear Mama ain’t just the name of a song

It’s the spirit of the African mother that makes our people strong

So before you drop that mixtape you better crack open a book

And read Kimberle Crenshaw, Barbara Smith, and bell hooks

Don’t talk to me about gangsta if you’re misleading the youth

If you want real hard talk then check Sojourner Truth

Before you call women bitches check out her speech

Because Ain’t I a Woman is like church. Sista preach! 

Or if you really want someone who tells it without flinching

Think of the risks Ida B. Wells took to publish on lynching.

But if you think slavery was only in America then your knowledge is weak

I advise you to learn the story of Marie Joseph Angelique

And shout out to Carrie Best, Mary Ann Shadd, and Mary Bibb

Publishing The Clarion, Provincial Freeman and Voice of the Fugitive 

If you don’t know your own power because your herstory was kept quiet

You need to study Eliza Parker and how she kicked off the Christiana riots.

And local Black women's history should have you changing your tune

Like in Nova Scotia with Viola Desmond, Madeline Symonds, and Rose Fortune

Don’t depend on celebrities to reflect you, sista widen your perspective

Go read the Combahee River Collective

Of all of our names Harriet is one of the greatest

Because we have Tubman, Powers, Wilson, and Jacobs

I can tell you more names to feed your mind or sister did I stutter?

Open the books of Phyllis Wheatley, Audre Lorde, or Octavia Butler

And before you set limits on yourself because of the colour of your face

Remember Black women like Mae Jameson have actually been to space

And in my own life there’s more women than I could have written

Women who inspire like Connie Sparks, Lynn Jones, Michelle Williams-Lorde, and Rhonda Britton

You see, my sheroes are really too many to list

So I hope that this poem had you throwing up a Black power fist.

El Jones, “Black Sheroes” from Live from the Afrikan resistance! Copyright © 2014 by El Jones. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. 

Source: Live from the Afrikan resistance! (Roseway Publishing, 2014)