I will no longer sing the blues,
drugs, I must never, ever abuse.
If I don’t love me and I know I do,
how can I say that I love you?
My child, my child, come here to me.
Let me tell you my life’s story.
I was born on the poorest side of town.
White folks would look me up and down.
They never knew what to make of me.
My skin tone was all they could see.
I was sent to a school so far away.
I had armed guards on that very first day.
They called me names that I can hear still.
I would be dead if looks could kill.
I tell you child, I done seen it all,
‘Colored only’ written in a racist’s scrawl.
I’ve seen the Klan burn a cross in my yard,
and many a Negro body, lynched and charred.
Oh child, they put that crack in my hand.
I didn’t know that in jail, I would land.
But I gotta stand up and fight for you.
Someday, I’m gonna make you proud of me too.
I’m gonna break these chains that have held me back,
and be proud that I’m your mother and I’m off that crack!
Shelby I. Courtland
©2016 Shelby I. Courtland