An Open Letter to Assata Shakur

Dear Assata,

I hope that this letter finds you in the comforts of your freedom. I won’t take too much of your time.

One day (about a month or so ago), I visited my favorite herbal apothecary. I picked up a 21 day guided journal and I as gifted a bracelet with “Exist Like Assata” etched into it. I am a firm believer in the intentions of the universe. I took it as a sign that during this current time and space in my life, I was supposed to be learning something from you. Prior to receiving this bracelet, I had no idea who you were, what your impact was or how much you’d change my life. All I knew was that I was being encouraged to “exist” like you….whatever that meant.

Being the bookworm that I am, I decided to begin with your literature. I’ll be honest, I typically finish reading books in about three days. Your autobiography took me over a month to finish.

As I read, I researched. I researched words. I researched locations you mentioned. I researched the Black Liberation Army. Your autobiography was my first introduction to it. In the history of my education, it has NEVER been mentioned and after reading, I fully understand why.

As I read, my blood boiled. I became frustrated. The frustration led to anger. The anger led to feelings of such helplessness that I cried and had to continuously put the book down until I pulled myself together.

Assata, I am in awe of your spirit, strength and the courage that carried you. Thank you for inspiring me to make greater efforts to be an advocate for our people. Most importantly, I thank you for sharing your truth. I wish you continued freedom, light and love.

-Racquell

Diversity

That one email that burns me to my soul

While we have carefully reviewed your resume, we have decided to pursue other candidates, whose qualifications are more closely aligned with the requirements of the role

But what about me

How can I learn the skills if I’m never given the opportunity

THEY said “go get an advanced degree

So I did yet and still you constantly overlook me

My hair isn’t burned to the roots or blonde and straightened to my shoulders

Perhaps that’s why you don’t consider me over and over

Maybe my skin isn’t light enough

And no matter what car I drive, the degrees I hold, the languages I speak or how proper I talk

I’ll still never be white enough

Does my work ethic upset you

My productivity speaks for itself

Cause I work like I’ve got something to prove

And everything to lose

Is it my fault that my confidence makes my superiors feel inferior

You see

For me

 Since day one

I’ve been taught to work twice as hard, be twice as smart, be twice as good to even try to occupy spaces for people that look like me

 Where there are none

So when you pride yourself on “diversity”

Are you even talking about me?