we’ve been here before
(The 1619 Project)

we’ve been here

before bound

face to face

with the unknown

shoved into tight

spaces, shackled,

strangled by the



stench of capitalism and

communicable diseases

unable to breathe

muzzled behind iron-masks

savagely uprooted and s c a t t e r e d

across sugar plantations and white cotton fields


forced to reimagine home

in slums and shanties

with no running water or

happy birthday songs

to wash our hands

or toilet paper

or food


we could not

eat what we


gathered bones

black and brown

bodies thrown into

unmarked graves


we were here before

carried in the resilient

blood of our ancestors

who with girded loins

transported us across

their backs dismantling

systems with their own tools

quilting fabrics from scraps

Soul-stirring delicacies like songs


altars and organs

in their lungs


the earth is a tabernacle

and the body an instrument

and the heart a beat

and God only comes alive

when we dance


we’ve been here


standing on

the shoulders

of the ancestors

who taught us

how to make


out of nothing

and summon

light out of darkness

fear not, we’ve been here before…