Writer Daniel Beaty has penned a poem in response to the killing of George Floyd and race-based violence.
The piece, "Dear Future Ancestor," is at once a message of healing and a call to arms against racial injustice. Although the voice speaks to a "future ancestor," it is also a vital present-day plea to come together against bigotry.
"I want people to [understand] that we are more alike than we are unalike. I really believe that we are all connected," Beaty said in a release about his work. "There are a variety of things that happen in the world that cause us to believe that we're different from each other.
"I believe that a lot of the greatest problems that happen in the world come from that false belief that we're disconnected; but, it is my belief that we're all reflections of one another."
Beaty, an award-winning author, activist, and playwright, often tackles social justice issues in his work. His works include Through the Night and Emergence-See!
Listen to Beaty recite "Dear Future Ancestor" below, and read along with the text.
Dear Future Ancestor
If I could take all your pain
Wrap it in my arms
And toss it into the depth of the Middle Passage
Where countless tears have filled waters
Stretching from Africa to these Americas
If I could take your rage
And ball it into a collective fist
And smash injustice into a thousand pieces of light
Carving a path for future generations
If I could whisper into the soul of every black child
Confused, trembling in fear:
You are safe. You are protected
If I could promise every black parent
That nothing can assassinate the promise
You birthed into creation
Your seed will flourish, it must
If I could assure every lover that the body you hold
Is sacred, is the peace of God, is a miracle
Your courage to love is your heart’s lubrication
And though you are afraid, now is the time to love more
If my spirit could inhabit every body that fears you
Illuminate their hearts, their minds, their eyes
To the beauty of your Divinity
Shine light on the oneness of our shared humanity
Because I cannot, please know these words…
You are the King, the Malcolm
The Tubman, the Truth,
The Robeson, The Simone
The direction and the promise
You are the feet that march,
The bodies hosed and arrested
The songs of freedom sung loud
The collective action
You are the architects of freedom
The late night camp meetings
The minds that strategize
A clear, precise, agenda for change
You are the rage and the pain
You are the hope and the vision
Even though your heart is breaking
You are the salve
Future Ancestor know yourself
It is when we are under attack that we must know
The unlimited power of black soul
It is time to mobilize and act
Future Ancestor earn your place
Amongst the legion of heroes past
Breathe deep, look inside: we are here
In your brother, sister’s eyes: we are here
Who are you?
Do you truly know your power?
Then, what are you going to do?