The absolute brilliance of Nayyirah Waheed’s words is something we should all embrace. As someone who pens poems addressing self-worth, white supremacy and not feeling at home in the world, Waheed is one of the leading voices speaking to the last vestiges of our humanity in an ever-connected yet still disconnected world.

1. where you are. is not who you are.
2. both. i want to stay. I want to leave. I am three oceans away from my soul.
3. there is no healthier drug than creativity.
4. cruel mothers are still mothers. they make us wars. they make us revolution. they teach us the truth. early. mothers are humans. who sometimes give birth to their pain. instead of children.
5. poetry. is the fire leaving my body.
6. I found flaws and they were beautiful.
7. i will tell you, my daughter of your worth not your beauty every day.
8. if we. are with child. and you believe that fatherhood begins when my body pours a baby into your hands. not before. you do not deserve this child. you are a coward.
9. the worst thing that ever happened to the world was the white man coming across gun powder.
10. if someone does not want me it is not the end of the world. but if I do not want me. the world is nothing but endings.
11. decolonization requires acknowledging. that your needs and desires should never come at the expense of another’s life energy. it is being honest that you have been spoiled by a machine that is not feeding you freedom but feeding you the milk of pain.
12. white people try to take blackness. pour it out rub it onto their skin and wear us like they know what we about. but honey it’s only ever gon’ be a suntan. you ain’t neva gon’ be black.
13. men give birth, too. to children. to longings. to dreams. that they must hide. their stomachs. their uteruses. their hungers. their softness. their cravings for touch. to be a man. is the thing that closes their light. and eats their eyes.
14. being in love with my people does not mean i hate others. how ridiculous is that.
15. i am a black wave in a white sea. always seen and unseen.
16. the thing that you are most afraid to write. write that.
17. you ask to touch my hair. or worse touch it without asking. this is not innocence. this is not ignorance. this is not curiosity. this is the very racist and subhuman belief that you have a right to me.
18. you. are your own standard of beauty
19. Africa does not need your tears. or your prayers. or your money. or your t-shirts. or your telethons. or your hands ever so lovingly placed on her buttocks. your mouth at her breasts. your fist in her eyes. she wants you to stop pissing in her face and calling it water.
20. i want more ‘men’ with flowers falling from their skin. more water in their eyes. more tremble in their bodies. more women in their hearts than on their hands. more softness in their height. more honesty in their voice. more wonder. more humility in their feet.


If you enjoy the works of Nayyirah Waheed as much as I do, the book is available for purchase here


*Nayyirah Waheed has requested for this article to be removed. According to editorial policy we don’t remove published pieces.