First Generation Feminist

“I am a feminist.”

“What a white word.

It’s an Expensive word”


“Am I, a feminist?”


                                                “You tell me. Is this what they are

                                                teaching you in that fancy college?”


“Feminists fight for

women’s right.”

“So did your grandmother.

We just called her, woman.

Time for dinner. Set the table”.


“Should I use the white

Laced tablecloth”?


                                                “You are a feminist, you are a woman,

you can choose.”

another mother

another mother cries

she sobs

she tells the world her son, her daughter

was a good person

he/she didn’t deserve this

she tries to speak

her voice cracks,         over    and      over     and      over

just like the deafening summer fireworks in Newark’s North Ward.

the cracking sound of a whip in the wind

ripping the smallest leaf from a branch of the sleeping willow tree


sharp. cutting. shattering. we hear her

our collective hearts grieve

crack. crack.

she is a mother of an unarmed black child killed by police

“mama, tell them I love them. mama I’m going to die.”

another mother cries

tonight, she is her far away,                but she is here with me

I can say nothing

the sound of another mother’s broken heart keeps me awake


Iced out
locked out
put out
left out
moved out
no way out.
Borders. Walls.
Not picked.
Chained up.
Go over there.     Masked required.
Alone in the cell.
Chill. Ghosted.
No likes. No response. Not invited.
No playmates.
I—so-late I—-So—l—-At—isolation

Dr. Ellis-Williams is a multimedia abstract artist and poet. She is Chair and Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at New Jersey City University. Contributor to A Womb of Violet: An Anthology I, Project for Empty Space, author of Black Gardenias: A Collection of Poems, Stories, & Sayings From A Woman’s Heart. Her one woman play Scarf Diaries premiered at NJPAC. Her documentary Lee Hagan: Connecting Generations won best short documentary at the Newark Black Film Festival. In her TedX Talk Finding Justice in the Land of the Free she unpacks her immigrant status in America.

You can follow Dr. Ellis-Williams on Twitter and Instagram! Check out her website here

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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