I facilitated a workshop around inclusive leadership, and my students were tasked with developing a “Where I’m From" poem. We used the template provided by the “I Am From Project.” The poem was designed to reflect and to celebrate the diverse and unique experiences of our group. During the workshop, I developed a poem that centered my experiences as a Black girl growing up in New Orleans.
Where I'm from: Black Girl in New Orleans
I am from art and notebook paper,
From Create 365 and Passion Planner,
I am from the heart, riddled with abuse and apology,
I am from the African violet, a collective but solely beautiful.
I am from crawfish boils and snowball stands,
From Momma and Aunty Jackie,
I’m from the ratchets and the respectables,
From “Don’t let your mouth overload your ass!” and “You bet not embarrass me in this store!”
Down the street from “Where is my change?” and “You got some McDonald’s money?”
I’m from "knock this penny off my shoulder" and "I bet you wont say it to my face,"
I'm from the "Big Easy" where life aint never been breezy, for a Black girl.
I’m from New Orleans, Jambalaya, and Zydeco Chicken,
From “Relax them naps and comb your kitchen,”
From the pissy smell of Canal Street to the vibrant rhythm of the beat,
From the rump shakers to the troublemakers,
From rising rents to the Claiborne tents,
From "Where did all the black folk go?" to "Oh look, a new coffee store!"
I am from the pictures on the shelves adorned with watermarks and mildew, transcended by the waves of the bayou.
-Natasha M. Lee