Monday, December 6, 2010

{Bringing Up Boogie} There Is No Comfort In Silence

Editor's note: If you follow poet and Bringing Up Boogie columnist Bassey Ikpi here on MyBrownBaby, you know that she is a tireless advocate for mental health. You should know, too, that she's equally passionate about HIV/AIDS advocacy—specifically building bridges of acceptance and love between people without HIV toward those who do. Her mission is to remove the stigmas that come with the disease, with the hope that doing so will encourage people who are at risk or infected to get smart, get tested, get help and get support. Considering how HIV/AIDS is devastating black women—check out this story, which chases down stats showing black women have the highest rates of new HIV/AIDS infections but get very little attention in the fight—it is high time that we got smart not only about protecting ourselves, but embracing our sisters and helping them find their way. Shout out to Bassey for this piece, which she performed in this YouTube video with Talib Kweli, as part of Global Grind's "Positive Charge" campaign, which debuted on  World AIDS Day. Below the video are the words—each and every one of them raw, beautiful, relevant. Necessary.

There Is No Comfort in Silence


don’t ever forget your body
don’t ever forget this heart
that saves
this thing that pushes blood
and oxygen
this pulsating beating living thing
don’t ever forget your heart
your lungs
your breath
this mass of tissue and muscle that
holds your compassion hostage
HIV will not hold you hostage
eliminate the sigh
eliminate the look that weighs tons
free the loveliness
the comfort
embrace the spirit that longs for touch
you must do this in solidarity
for those afraid
those who turn their body over to sickness
you must tell them that they are loved
that they can remain whole
despite this thing that threatens the blood
but you will never threaten love
will never withhold
will only embrace
offer comfort like a sweetness dancing on your tongue
Make the earth a promise
and exhale this vow into the wind
“I will love you always.”
let the breeze carry it across the earth
let it touch the women, the men,
the babies, the families
let it touch the continents in need of healing
and understanding
let it touch the hearts that need it.
there is no comfort in silence
hold the hand that aches for peace
hold the body that aches for peace
offer them a morning without  judgement
offer them a night without shame
offer them a peace that holds centuries
carved into their throats
allow them the freedom of a hollow scream
allow them the pleasure of acceptance
allow them a glittered night
 golden, halo of sun
bodies warmed by understanding
cups overflowing with encouragement

this battle deserves an army
this war, a fair fight
this love serves as ammunition
a warning shot into the distance
say, “we love you always.”
then say it again.
then say it again
and again
and again
and again
say it once more
until the silent find their voices
hidden in the corners without light
hand them candle
hand them torch
hand them bonfire
burn courage into your chest
watch it scar over
tough and impenetrable

then listen
the heart beats a welcomed
love song
the spirit spills peace into your veins
there will be no room for secrets
there will just be this desire to live
to do what it takes to make your days longer
to dull the ache that comes from silence
to offer fistfuls of truth and acceptance
send a message into a wind
spin it into a thousand hurricanes
create a whirlwind of strength
let it fall
a thousand raindrops upon their heads
until they are soaked with the truth of this
“we will love you always.”

* * * *

About our MBB Contributor:Bassey Ikpi is a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic. She’s half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius... the left over bit is a caramel creme center. She’s also the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi. Get more Bassey at

If you would like to be a featured contributor on MyBrownBaby, email your essays/ideas/blog posts/rants/musings to Denene at denenemillner at gmail dot com.
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  1. I have watched this video numerous times since I first learned about it last week. I, then, emailed it and posted it on my facebook pages in attempts to show my support for the millions impacted by HIV/AIDS worldwide. This World AIDS Day touched me in a different way than those before it. I've considered myself an advocate for many causes over the years (mental health, education reform, and the needs of children and adolescents, especially) but AIDS awareness was not something that I've been well versed in. This was the first year that on World AIDS Day that I had truly felt the impact. I now know someone living with HIV. You see, he'd just found out, himself, about 3 weeks before. He's 21 and a loved one of my dearest friend. Both of our hearts were on the verge or breaking when we first heard but his strength and determination has inspired us both. We won't allow him or others to suffer alone.

    I hear the words, "we will love you, always" and think, "Exactly!" That's what I want him to know. That's what I everyone that is fighting this battle to know, to hear, to believe because as you've said Bassey, "there is no comfort in silence". May we continue in this fight, together.

    I'm on your side.
    Thank you!


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