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Brown Girl Dreaming

May 20, 2015

Brown Girl Dreaming

As part of my research, I have been reading African-American children’s and Young Adult books. I just finished Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, which is a must-read memoir for any person who appreciates language and unique storytelling style through the eyes of a child.

I could fill this post with all of the simple truths that she gets across through her beautiful verse, but when I read the chapter, “the promise land,” I thought it really epitomized humanity’s experience and search for meaning, as well as young Jacqueline’s journey in finding her truth in a complicated world.

the promise land

When my uncle gets out of jail

he isn’t just my uncle anymore, he is

Robert the Muslim and wears

a small black kufi on his head.

And even though we know

we Witnesses are the chosen ones, we listen

a man named Muhammad

and a holy place called Mecca

and the strength of all Black people.

We sit in a circle around him, his hands

moving slow through the air, his voice

calmer and quieter than it was before

he went away.

When he pulls out a small rug to pray on

I kneel beside him, wanting to see

his Mecca

wanting to know the place

he calls the Promise Land.

Look with your heart and your head, he tells me

his own head bowed.

It’s out there in front of you.

You’ll know when you get there.

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