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National Poetry Month is an opportunity to celebrate the artform of poetry and highlight the creativity and impact of poets and poems. HRC’s Senior Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Nicole Cozier has long expressed her innermost feelings and thoughts through poetry since early on in her life.
“Poetry has been a fixture in my life for as long as I can remember,” said Cozier. “I’ve been writing poetry in some capacity since I was very young.”
For Cozier, poetry is a vehicle that deepens her connection with the world and the myriad of issues of everyday life. It links past, present and future, or allows her to step outside of the moment altogether. It also allows her to process her feelings, express her frustrations, and gain the clarity, resolve and resilience needed in social justice work.
“Poetry can be a powerful social change vehicle,” says Cozier. “It is a window to our innermost selves. When we bear witness to that vulnerability in others and connect to it, it is hard to look away. It is hard to stay unchanged. And when we do it just right, we can spur others into action.”
Shortly after the insurrection at the nation’s Capitol in January, Cozier put pen to paper and created “Inside The Mind of a Queer Black Woman During an Insurrection.”
“I needed an outlet for all of my pent up thoughts and emotions in a way that didn’t have to be tempered, explained or qualified,” said Cozier.
Cozier also talks about the throughline that she incorporated across work. “In this piece, I give a nod to another piece I wrote called ‘Fragments’ where I wrote about how people with multiple marginalized identities have to suppress parts of ourselves to move through a world not made for us. The insurrection was the ultimate manifestation of the racial divide we are navigating in this country, so it was natural to connect back to the sentiments of that piece. So as much as it is a personal lament, it is also a rallying cry to regroup and keep going.”
HRC is proud to share Cozier’s “Inside The Mind of a Queer Black Woman During an Insurrection” for National Poetry Month.
INSIDE THE MIND OF A QUEER BLACK WOMAN DURING AN INSURRECTION
I sit in raging awe as I watch the doors of the cradle of our democracy stormed without care, without restraint, and without resistance.
I watch the white bodies claim this space like they have claimed so many before – never questioning if they belonged there or if the rules apply to them.
Chants of “who’s house, our house” ring through the halls punctuated by a backdrop of Confederate flags and swastikas with a fierce and violent clarity to people like me. The message:
Know your place. You have no business here…
I write about my fragmented identities. I meditate on my value. I struggle to show up in my power, despite so many echoing messages reminding me how little I have, and how fragile it is.
Yet THESE people…who are no better than me, no smarter than me, no more passionate
Who are simply just WHITER than me, stake THEIR claim without hesitation or question.
What does it feel like to have that kind of power? That kind of entitlement?
What does it mean to live in THAT dream rather than in a world where dreams are ever deferred, locked up, beaten down, choked out, or snuffed out in the dark of night while we sleep in our safest of places.
For a moment, I consider if I would trade my “wokeness” to live in THIS collective delusion that doesn’t require the accountability, the introspection, or the self-awareness that consumes so much of my emotional and spiritual labor every day.
Then, I look at my child. I look at my people, and our comrades who are confounded, enraged and determined to reclaim our power, not in attempts to chase the fantasy of a country that never was, but the pursuit of building a country that is yet to be.
And, I know I have no choice. I cannot trade our future for the temporary salve of a delusion.
Our ancestors didn’t. They died over and over to make it possible for me to be outraged. For me to have a choice and a voice.
So, I have to dig deep, let my rage and awe refuel my fire, and find a way to keep moving forward….toward the country we must become.