(A Note to Ms. Maya)


“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Dr. Maya Angelou


I was watching the news this morning when I got word of Ms. Maya’s passing.

I recognize that death is a part of life. I recall hearing she was ill…it was like hearing that one of my Grammom’s sister-friends who disciplined me if I was out of line as a child was dying. I grew up hearing her name here and there. As an adult I learned who she really was when I read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”.

Was this a life-changing book? Yes. Ms. Maya was willing to open up to an unseen audience and discuss her sexual abuse. It was, in a word- courageous. Aside from the time when she wrote it, a time when Black women were still fighting to have a voice, after she had given up having a voice of her own, she shared an unadulterated story. She sang her song so clear every note undulated in the hearts of readers who shared her experiences. No matter how sorrowful or explicit the lyrics she sang her song. When people criticized her, told her she was ugly…she was WRONG for sharing her song- she did it anyway. Sung of the abuse, the pain and how all that formed the beautiful woman she came to be. The woman she was until she passed on. How empowering it is to define beauty on one’s own terms! How liberating death must be to someone who can walk to the end of their life, look The Creator and The End in the face and proclaim a rise above death long before their physical body gave out! Sing on, Ms. Maya! Sing on!

Aside from the emotional eloquence of her autobiography I learned that I do not have to be ashamed of who I am and what I have experienced in life. Why should I choose silence over freedom? There is no shame in life’s unfortunate experiences. I have to exercise my voice- even when something or someone tries to take it away. Rape…abuse…these are very unfortunate occurrences but they do not have to define the person that experiences them. Be proud of survival; let tears from memories fall where they may. In life we make many, many choices. Trauma is traumatic, but we choose victimhood; it never chooses us. We choose to allow experiences to define us. It is also our choice how that experience defines us. Who among us could not learn something from her? I stand and acknowledge she taught me a lot about Me.

“Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Rest peacefully, Ms. Maya ❤

For the complete poem “Phenomenal Woman” please visit http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/phenomenal-woman/


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