Love like Maya Angelou this month

This Black History Month, let love deafen

by Shayne Jones, Staff Writer

We don’t know how or why love occurs.

Truthfully, we don’t know that even gravity isn’t a kind of love.”

I was in fourth grade when I heard Maya Angelou’s robust voice for the first time.

Stoic composure juxtaposed with commanding inflection was a voice that captivated me.

“You may shoot me with your words, / You may cut me with your eyes, / You may kill me with your hatefulness, / But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

Her message was clear even when I didn’t fully understand the meaning of the phrase. The diction, tone, personification, it was all there; but it wasn’t rearing its head and stomping the ground groveling for attention.

It was calm and intentional. It moved without force. And that’s what makes a good poet.

“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams / his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream / his wings are clipped and his feet are tied / so he opens his throat to sing.”

Angelou spoke only the words that mattered.

She was a master of them–each meticulously chosen, each chosen for a reason.

She was headstrong and resilient, magnificent and regal.

Angelou was simply one of those people who was born knowing how to love.

Love was central to Angelou’s life thesis, and it narrated every sentence.

She believed love, and I mean pure love, would end injustice.

Race, religion, language, culture–they were important, but they weren’t everything. Unity, inclusion, respect, love for oneself; they were everything.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Angelou’s view of the world was simple, yet remains to be one the most compelling I’ve heard.

She saw humans objectively and realized the potential in all of us for real understanding.

She believed we have God and the devil within us, and it’s up to us to awaken one and tame the other.

Angelou survived assault at seven, went mute for five. But soon silence turned to reflection, reflection found hope and hope fell in love with language.

She had reason to hate, but she loved.

She had every right to fight, but she loved.

She felt all the pain of the past and all the turmoil of the present, but yet, she loved.

Until her final day, love was her poetry.

This person, this beacon, dedicated a lifetime to speaking the truth of love through words, and those words have reached into my soul and shaken it awake.

In an era of injustice, bigotry, unchecked privilege and hate, let love shake you.

“Yet if we are bold / Love strikes away the chains of fear / from our souls.”

Angelou’s poetry is alive as ever in this Black History Month, and it is good.

But black history is not a month.

It is an immortal movement of people which surges forward with unparalleled force.

Angelou’s force was love and she spoke it loudly.

This Black History Month, let love deafen.