It Is Better To Speak

by Aaminah Shakur

“I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.” (Audre Lorde, “The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action”)

Speak
You have a voice
So why don’t you use it?
All those times you
Fold in on yourself
Take refuge in safety

But your silence
Will not protect you
The world moves on
Around you
Oblivious 
To your unspoken
And unmet
Needs and dreams

Speak
For it is in the naming
The power lies
To create
To change
To bring about new worlds

Did you never ask yourself
Why prayer, chant, song, spell
Ask for a verbalization
To make manifest 
The desires of the heart

Speak
And in your speaking
May you find strength
And may you 
Unbind the tongue
Of another

Image “I Am Speaking” by Aaminah Shakur
Image description: Four panel photo collage with a yellow and black background of interlocking lines. Each panel features a close up of a self-portrait of a light-skinned person with purple lipstick and a silver lip ring, focusing tightly on the lips at different points of saying the word “speak”.