Poetry can create beauty out of pain.
Since ancient times, poems have covered various topics. Men were writing about the women they couldn’t have, women described their many grievances, and the struggles of society were made relatable and known to all.
Black poets, in particular, used their voices to give voice to those who couldn’t express themselves. They described their own lives, and also the lives of other Black folks with a common bond.
Maya Angelou used poetry and writing in general to take back her autonomy and heal from her trauma. Nikki Giovanni’s unapologetic works became a significant part of the Civil Rights Movement and continuously addresses various themes such as Black womanhood and manhood. Langston Hughes and his jazz poetry described the “blues” of Black people with its emotional rawness. All this talent and skill coming from the slaves that taught themselves to write.
Black people have always used creative outlets for expression and change.
Now, even more are immersed in the arts. There is always something about our lives and our culture to discuss. Police brutality? Check. Touching our hair? Double check. Being Black in a predominately White institution? Nailed it. Who else can better cover the Black experience, and even own individual stories, but us? Here are a few performance poems for Black people, by Black people, that do just that:
“Keep on Token” by Akeem Olaj and FreeQuency
“In Defense of Meek Mill” by Jasmine Combs, Kai Davis, and Nayo Jones
“F*ck I look like” by Kai Davis
“Stay Woke” by Kai Davis and Miriam Harris
“American Diss Track” by Joseph Capehart
“Da Rules” by Marvin Hodges, Em Allison, and Saidu Tejan-Thomas
“My Wife Is Shaped Like” by William Evans
“Chameleon” by Rudy Francisco
“Open Letter to Black People in Horror Movies” by Omar Holmon and A.R.
“Ask A Black Dude” by Gabriel Green
“Teething” by Donte Collins
“When The Shotgun Questions The Black Boy” by Sonya Renee Taylor
“Black Girl Magic” by Shasparay
“Hide Your Shea Butter” by Crystal Valentine and Aaliyah Jihad
“And The News Reporter Says Jesus Is White” by Crystal Valentine
“The Ghost Of Marvin Gaye Plays The Dozens With The Pop Charts” by Hanif Abdurraqib
“Trees” by Danez Smith
“To This Black Woman Body, Part 1” by Alyesha Wise
“Guinness Skin” by Alysia Harris
“Safe Space” by Jasmine Combs