I was watching the news, and saw people at the Statue of Liberty, which was reopened today, the Fourth of July. Many people commented on this statue as a symbol of freedom. And it made me think of that other passage to America, the Middle Passage, the antithesis of freedom — slavery. And I wanted to share this poem I wrote, “Statue for the Unknown Slave Woman?,” which will appear in my next collection of poetry, “The Black Feminine Mystique”:
Her broad hips had launched a thousand slave ships.
On the transatlantic “trip” her fate was sealed;
She was repeatedly raped, bore slaves for an alien race.
On the auction block she stood protuberantly pregnant,
While White men gathered around her, rubbed her belly,
And then fiercely bid to own her fertile body.
America harbors the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island,
A torch upraised in one of her hands, lighting the way,
For the tired, poor, huddled White masses yearning to be free.
Perhaps off the coast of the Carolinas, on Sullivan Island,
America should erect a statue, call it Lady Slavery,
For the stolen, shackled Black masses also yearning to be free.
Untold wealth had issued from Lady Slavery’s womb.
Why not a statue for this unknown woman, or a tomb?