Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Poem: My Precious Daughters


Spoken by José Cossa and Wubit MekuriaCopyright©2020 José Cossa


[This poem is dedicated to my daughters, Khani and Mammies, and all the girls in the world. It is an appreciation of the journey toward open courageous communication and continuing resiliency and strength amidst adversity, challenges, and opportunities. The poem is written to be read by two people, a parent and an older sister]

Parent’s Address 

My precious daughter,

Not long ago you were a baby
A baby whose beautiful soul was evident 
In your first cry, your first smile, your first straight-face
You were the baby-girl... the daughter I dreamed to parent with love
The daughter I am blessed to parent with respect 
The daughter whose dignity I am entrusted to uphold
The daughter from whom I learn the complexities of growing up
The daughter whom I teach the complexities of values, boundaries, and assertiveness 
The daughter whom I teach the beauty and complexities of love

In a world where human relationships have been challenged by cyber relationships 
I ache to know how you navigate your everyday relationships 
How you protect yourself from bullying and peer pressure 
How you learn about the vices of drugs, alcohol, and sex
How you resist the attempts of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse
The abuse perpetrated by the very people you expect to love you
The abuse by those whom you perceive as friends 
The abuse of that special person you trust 
The abuse of the stranger whose intentions are to lure and hurt young girls

My precious daughter,

Tell me how you feel today
How you feel deep within you
How you feel about yourself 
How you feel about your friends 
How you feel about your teachers
How you feel about... life.

When I ask you, ‘how was your day?’
I am asking how your heart navigated today
How your mind made sense of the information you received today
How your mouth shared what your heart and mind felt and thought today
I am asking how your body was treated today
I am asking how you treated your body today
I am asking about the pains you hold inside 
I am asking about the joys you live inside

When I ask you ‘how are you?’
I am asking how life has been treating you
I am asking how you have been celebrating life
I am asking about the status of your physical health
I am asking how your spirit feels today
I am asking if you had any moment of weakness 
I am asking if you drew from the strength that lies within you
I am asking...
if at any point you doubted that you are beautiful 
If at any point you doubted the worth of your life
If at any point you felt ashamed of who you are... a girl.

Big Sister’s Address 

My precious little sister,
[Sigh...]
I was once a girl your age
(I know, you’ve heard this many times)
But... listen to me for a minute!

I was once a girl like you
I had good friends, acquaintances that I thought were friends, haters I regarded as friends 
I had good people that supported me 
I had good people that I disregarded
I had people that loved me and I loved them back
I had people that loved me and I took them for granted 
I was surrounded by love, yet constantly fighting unwarranted hatred 
I was often courageous, yet at times overcome by inexplicable fear 
I had numerous sources of joy, yet at times felt alone and unhappy 
I was told that I am strong, yet at times I felt like I was the weakest girl on earth 
I loved life, yet at times life seemed impossible to bear
Sometimes the world felt bright and glamorous, yet at times it felt so dark and gloomy 
I had many days of victory, yet one brief moment of sorrow and sadness...
Just one very brief moment... wiped away the memory of the many victories I had
The unfairness of life, 
the betrayal of friends, 
the physical abuse from strangers and loved ones, 
people’s discouraging and demeaning comments about my body,
The darkness in the music I listened to,
The suicidal messaging and mainstreamed self-degradation from my heroes,
The self-destructiveness and self-deprecating I normalized
The lack of self-esteem that resulted from all the negativity 
suck life out of me
It tore me apart
It led me to the verge of anxiety and depression 
Until... until one day
Until one day, as if my heart was speaking to my mind, I heard the words:
I am a human being
Human beings are born with dignity
Human dignity cannot be taken away from me
I am a human being 
Human beings have the right to be who they are
I am a girl and I am proud to be a girl
Human beings have the right to be respected
I deserve respect, I will give respect, and I will demand respect 
Human beings have the right to love and be loved
I will give love with respect, honor, and dignity
I will accept only love with respect, honor, and dignity 
When put down, I will rise up!
When shamed, I will find strength within me to rise up!
When told that I am nobody, I will rise up and assert my being somebody!
When torn to pieces with words and actions, I will rise up to put myself together and march to greatness!
I am a girl and I am no less human than anyone 
I am a girl and I am no less strong than anyone 
I am a girl and I am ‘woke!’