HERstory in Black: watch d'bi.young anitafrika deliver a powerful tribute to Black women

The poet performed at the HERstory in Black event at the CBC in Toronto last year, speaking to the ever-evolving resilience, strength and tenacity of Black women

The poet, playwright and educator performed at the HERstory in Black event at the CBC in Toronto last year

d'bi.young anitafrika at the HERstory in Black event in Toronto. (CBC Arts)

Black History Month is a time to reflect and celebrate, but it's also a time to push forward. And that's exactly what happened a year ago today, when HERstory in Black took over the atrium at the CBC Broadcasting Centre in Toronto.

A community-led project celebrating the achievements of Black women in Toronto, HERstory in Black was initiated by Emily Mills as an extension of How She Hustles, a network that connects more than 5,000 diverse women through events and social media. Mills then partnered with CBC to create a transformative and unforgettable experience.

Watch the video:

d'bi.young anitafrika delivers her powerful poem at the HERstory in Black event in Toronto. 8:23

The initiative profiled 150 inspiring Black women in a range of professions, including an award-winning playwright, an architect, a neuroscientist and many more (among them: CBC Arts: Exhibitionists host Amanda Parris).

At the CBC Toronto event last year, artist d'bi.young anitafrika delivered her strikingly powerful poem Black Woman, speaking to the ever-evolving resilience, strength and tenacity of Black women. Watch her perform the poem in the video above and read a transcript of it below.

"Black Woman" by d'bi.young anitafrika

Black Woman!
Black Woman, Black Woman, Black Woman, Black Woman, Black Woman:
Put down your market bag for a moment
Take a break from your organizing,
Close down your computer screen and
Come in come in come in 
And take a reasoning.

Calling all Black Woman from across the land:
African, diasporic, academic, intellectual,
Transgender, cisgender, two-spirit, queer and lesbian.
All spectrum, all abilities,
Middle class, working class, wealthy, labourer,
Activist, scientist, farmer and teacher,
Lawyer, fashionista, Soca-ciser, healer,
Architect, politician, producer, writer, 
Come come come come come come come
Me said fi come!
Come take a seat and sit down pon the ground.
Let me and you,
Black Woman,
Have a long long long long long long conversation
About
your
Heart.

Yes, your heart.
Remember? It there right here, so.
Your heart, and its current situation. 
The health of your heart within the nation, Black Woman.
Black Woman, do you know how your heart's strong?
Big, open and wide like ocean
Unending like the Nile is long.
Absorbing human misunderstanding,
Human miscommunication,
Human misinterpretation,
Dissolving human macro and micro aggression,
Remedying human racism, prejudice, bias and appropriation
In a world that chooses to forget that humanity
Spring up, spring up, spring up like springtime,
In a world that chooses to forget that humanity 
Spring up, spring up, spring up like springtime fresh
From the loins of an African woman.
Black Woman do you understand? 

Black woman, Black Woman,
I am calling all Black Woman from across the land:
Publisher, makeup artist, designer, videographer,
Radio announcer, news anchor, neurosurgeon, 
Reporter, organizer, doctor, basketball coach,
Feminist, dancer, chef, spoken word artist,
Advocate, computer programmer, bodybuilder,
Engineer and actor.
Educator, photographer, painter and manager yes
Black Woman, Black Woman, Black Woman, your tender Black Woman heart, 
Tender tender tender tender tender
Like rain cloud, swell up, pregnant with tears,
Ready to fall, wash wash washing away the troubles of 
Misogyny. 
Wash wash washing away the troubles of 
Classism.
Wash wash washing away the troubles of 
Homophobia and bigotry.

Yes, whether you're in front or behind,
Frontline worker or quiet maneuvers from the corner,
Your tender tender tender stubborn heart, 
Black Woman,
Refuses to stop beating.
Beating beating beating resistance. 
Resisting erasure, resisting exclusion, resisting violence, resisting poverty, 

Your heart, your Black Woman heart
Is steady steady steady.
Steady like generation upon generation of freedom fighters
Whose hearts beat even after individual death.
Bo-boom-boom-boom

When one fall, another warrior is born.
Your heart,
Your heart beat its way through feelings of ostracization,
Feelings of isolation,
Because your Black Woman heart honours collective action.
Black Woman, you understand? You understand?

Calling all Black Woman across the land:
Playwright, therapist, DJ and filmmaker
Chiropractor, scientist, entrepreneur and researcher.
Baker, event planner,  musician and singer, 
Stylist, rapper, nutritionist, 
Olympic wrestler, midwife, blogger, tattooist and youth worker,
Storyteller, world leader, daughter, sister, auntie, 
And mother.

Now, Black Woman.
Black Woman. Black Woman. Black Woman. Black Woman.
Sometime, 
Sometime the weight of your heart so heavy that it crack and break under the stress and strain of the everyday--
Mi know, mi know, Black Woman.

But remember, Black Woman:
Resilience, excellence is your heart's middle name.
Remember that sweet sugar dumpling, ackee and saltfish, peas and rice, fufu, kele-wele heart of yours.
Yes, that Black Woman heart of yours is a blossoming flower of excitement and possibility,
Playfulness and sensuality.
Oh yes, Black Woman,
Your heart is the full moon dreamer of all reality 
Remember, the mother of humanity.

Black Woman, Black Woman.
Black Woman. Black Woman. Black Woman!
Hold your heart for a moment right now.
Hold your heart, Black Woman.
Hold your heart.
Hold your heart gently, 
All of the love you can muster somehow.
Hold your heart, Black Woman.
Black Woman, hold your heart and whisper, "I love you."
Breathe in and breathe out and feel your heart smiling out loud, Black Woman.
Feel your heart relax and grow deeper.
Feel your heart expand and become wiser.
Feel your heart beating for all of your ancestors, Black Woman, 
Who are so proud of you, Black Woman, 
For all that you are and all that you do, Black Woman.

Black Woman, keep the whole world turning. 
Keep growing, keep leading, keep learning.
Integrity, humility, your power source.
And when you're feeling sadness, stay the course.
And when you're feeling anger, stay the course.
And when you're feeling lonely, stay the course.
And when you're feeling hate, stay the course.
You have a day that's not going so great:
Stay the course.
Stay the course. Stay the course. 
Black Woman -- 
Keep the whole world turning. 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.