This poem was originally published on Medium.
sista bell hooks,
an enormous debt
that can never really
You fed our minds,
gave us concepts
like Black Feminism
to chew on, masticate, then
swallow like a snake consuming
the whole body of its prey.
We ingested your words,
your radical Black feminist way of being & writing,
your defiance in the small letters of your name & body.
We watched the world choosing to ignore you
until the strength & sharpness in the sword
of your ideas & words
could no longer be ignored—as you cut through
the bullshit shields of white privilege, white hegemony, internalized racism, sexism, to challenge all.
You wrote/spoke for/to the folk
long before “public intellectual”
was a thing.
Small of stature, for sure,
but like Sista Harriet T,
you moved with the grace of a lioness,
knowledged us, and loved us Black women, Black people, and the world, with the power of a mighty army.
You were our Truthsayer,
a Black Cassandra—speaking truth to power—yet destined never to be believed.
You were our African trickster, our Elegba—playing serious pranks of supreme knowledge
on those who mistook you
for a demure, Kentucky-born, light-skinned Black woman,
not to be feared,
until after they felt the sting
of your scorpion pen
& hardness of your diamond-sharp intellect.
We will miss you for true,
but you left us a feast of writing,
for adults and for Black children.
You are gone too soon,
but it would selfish for us to begrudge you the rest you so desperately needed, and most clearly have earned.
Rest in Power, Sistah bell hooks.
Join the pantheon of Black women ancestors who preceded you—Toni Morrison, Toni Cade-Bambara, Audre Lorde, Gloria Joseph, Ntozake Shange, Gloria Andaluza, your great-grandmother bell hooks, and the enslaved women who wanted to write and couldn’t.
You have left us a gift, Black Buddhist Wise Woman,
and it is up to us to find the courage to carry on your legacy.
No need to cry useless tears for you.
Instead, let us pick up our pens
& write our way
to liberation and freedom.
© 2021 Irma McClaurin.