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January 23, 2020

This Maya Angelou Poem is All I Need to Save Myself—Every Day.

Maya Angelou, the poet and activist, is immortal through her inspiring and eternal words.

For the conscious minds, her indelible impact will transcend generations to come. And for me, “Still I Rise” is one such poem that is timeless and relevant to any era, movement, or personal ordeal.

The power of the word “still” is not said in disdain, but in the tribulations that announce proudly that the human spirit will never cease to rise again and again.

In many ways, “Still I Rise” became me, and I became these words as I faced trials in my life. Poetry addressed to the oppressors held the weight of the truth of the time, and even though my predicament is small when compared to the civil rights movement, the words are empowering for me.

The poem is unapologetic, and so am I—unapologetically myself and not defined by my adversities.

We get crushed, brokenhearted, damaged, or betrayed at one time or another in our lives. If it is not a relationship, then maybe a so-called friend, or a relative, or a job or an accident or illness or death that turned the world upside down. Unfortunately, we all have tasted the blood in our tears—some more and some less.

“Still I Rise”—the poem shone like a thousand suns piercing the darkness that surrounded me. There is love in this poem—that one-of-a-kind love. A kind that does not want to play victim, a type which is indomitable and unsurpassable, a type that revolts against wrongdoing.

As we read the words below, we feel the power of love for oneself flowing like lava through our veins.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

~
And so, I rise, you rise, and we rise together.

Let us all desperately rise to raise the spirit of the world. We have no other choice but to rise.

Let us all rise so we can have freedom of life for all entities created equally, for in the liberty lies the opportunity to exist as one whole life and to choose whomever we want to be.

May Dr. Angelou’s words fill us with the passion for fighting injustice, whether that is in our lives or in the country and the world.

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