©2019 The Anti-Racist Educator.

Poetry against racism: our writing

Updated: Jun 20, 2019







At our second engagement meeting on Monday June 10th, we all took time to consider what role creativity and writing has in being an anti-racist. We shared thoughts on cultural appropriation, certain pieces of writing that have affected us, and the transcendence art can have in communicating messages where telling facts about racism can fall short.


As part of this creative writing, we wrote some poetry. After reading Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise", we took a template of the poem with gaps to fill in our own ideas. This was an accessible way into getting words onto a page, and use Angelou's messages around liberation, pride, and history to structure our own thoughts. Sharing own poems to the rest of the group was an empowering experience, reinforcing a sense of community. Please enjoy and perhaps consider how you would fill in the gaps.


Still I Rise (Hashim)


You may stare at me with hate

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may spit with disgust

But still, like dust, I'll rise.


Does my pride upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

'Cause I walk like I've got you spinning

around my working loom.


Just like the passing of the day

With the certainty of tides

Just like hopes springing high

Still I'll rise.


Did you want to see me subervient?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders drooped and broken

Weakened by my soulful cries?


Does my brown skin offend you?

Don't you take it awful hard

'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines

Diggin' in my own backyard.


You may grab me by my neck

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may tell me that I'm nothing,

But still, like air, I'll rise.


Does my greatness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I can show you up

At the trial of your lies?


Out of the huts of history's shame

I rise

Up from the blood of borders breaking

I rise

I'm a testament to survival

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


Leaving behind threats of white violence

I rise

Into a present that is truly ours

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the one you thought would fail.

I rise

I rise

I rise.


Still I Rise (Melina)


You may mark down my work

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may push me down your ivory tower

But still, like dust, I'll rise.


Does my presence upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

'Cause I walk like I've got mangoes

Growing in my garden.


Just like the sun

With the certainty of tides

Just like hopes springing high

Still I'll rise.


Did you want to see me nod and comply?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders tight with anxiety

Weakened by my soulful cries?


Does my existence offend you?

Or remind you of unpleasant pasts?

Don't you take it awful hard

'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines

Diggin' in my own backyard.


You may label me as 'exotic'

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may display me as your trophy,

But still, like air, I'll rise.


Does my nose ring upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I am proud of my cultural heritage

That I flaunt in your white space.


Out of the huts of history's shame

I rise

Up from the lies you force feed me

I rise

I'm a challenge to the racist system

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


Leaving behind your diversity tick-box exercises

I rise

Into a world of freedom, compassion, and justice

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the the living proof of their glory

I rise

I rise

I rise.


Still I Rise (Eyram)


You may push me down

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may wipe me off

But still, like dust, I'll rise.


Does my confidence upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

'Cause I walk like I've got diamonds

on the soles of my feet.


Just like sea waves

With the certainty of tides

Just like hopes springing high

Still I'll rise.


Did you want to see me hopeless?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders hanging

Weakened by my soulful cries?


Does my position surprise you?

Don't you take it awful hard

'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines

Diggin' in my own backyard.


You may hate me

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may deprive me of opportunities,

But still, like air, I'll rise.


Does my wealth upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I own a mansion

At the top of the hill?


Into a world of possibilities

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am a proud black woman.

I rise

I rise

I rise.


Still I Rise (Justina)


You may say hurtful things about me

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may mark down my work

But still, like dust, I'll rise.


Does my smile upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

'Cause I walk like I've got the whole word

On my side.


Just like sunshine

With the certainty of tides

Just like hopes springing high

Still I'll rise.


Did you want to see me cry?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders lowered down

Weakened by my soulful cries?


Does my smiling upset you?

Don't you take it awful hard

'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines

Diggin' in my own backyard.


You may hate me

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may not want to see me happy,

But still, like air, I'll rise.


Does my smiling upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I'm happy in spit of your hatred of me

At the time when you should be happy for me?


Out of the huts of history's shame

I rise

Up from the trade of slavery

I rise

I'm a product of slavery

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


Leaving behind all the hatred that goes with it

I rise

Into a glorious future

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am happy and proud

I rise

I rise

I rise.