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Dig Deep

Alvin C. Jacobs, Jr. (photographer), #CharlotteUprising, October 2016. Photograph retrieved from the digital archives of TSNE.

How many poems can an uninspired nigga write?

How many struggles can a tired sister fight?

How many prayers can a forsaken grandmama pray?

How may chants can a fatigued marcher say?

How many meetings can a disillusioned elder organize?

How many of his marginalized friends can a black trans man revolutionize?

How many tears can a black mama wipe away from her face?

How many radical queers does it take to banish ideological hate from an organizing space?

How many black sexist militants must black feminists forgive?

How many black bodies must we bury before black people live?

How many times must Trump tweet us lies?

How many times must we ask the question “WHY?”

Why they shoot us on sight?

Why we trapped in urban blight?

Why our kids gotta go to bed hungry?

Why I work three jobs and still ain’t got money?

Why I gotta diploma but still can’t read?

Why she graduate from college, got a job, and can’t buy her kids the shit they need?

Why my granddaddy 72 and still gotta look for work?

Why my aunt die in the waiting room screaming “MY CHEST HURTS”?

Why my mama slave third shift 33 years without a vacation?

Why my uncle died in his apartment because he couldn’t afford his medication?

Why do working class whites embrace anti-black racism?

Why does the black middle class diligently reproduce this system?

Why don’t poor black Christians struggle with organized queers?

Why do the critiques of black feminists railing against the sexism of black male ideologues always fall

on deaf ears?

Why don’t we care about the Israeli occupation of Palestine or sweatshops in Bangladesh?

Why do we ignore how AIDS and Ebola consume tons of African flesh?

Why don’t our questions push us to develop an effective causal analysis?

Why do our questions strap us in fear, immobilize us with paralysis?

Why we still don’t know what we’re fighting and what we’re truly up against?

Why are we apathetic; why are we so content?

Why do we say dumb shit like “It is what it is”?

Why aren’t we screaming “IT’S OUR DUTY TO WIN”?

When will our revolution begin?

How many poems can an uninspired nigga write?

He better find some inspiration cuz the people need a poem tonight.

They need a prophetic word, a vision and a strategy made clear.

So poet get your mind right and write cuz there is no time to spare.

Grab your pen and DIG DEEP.

Sisters in struggle,

grinding hard in the trenches,

don’t stop now—

be more relentless.


Grandmamas with your faith on the brink of extinction,

don’t let despair sink in.

Reorient your thinking,

and lower your hopeful eyes away from invisible help on high.

Reassert your faith in your grandbabies struggling for change on the ground.

Pray to them aloud.

Beseech them to DIG DEEP.

Fatigued marchers DIG DEEP.

Disillusioned elders DIG DEEPER.

Black trans folks navigating the forsaken space of a hateful netherworld,

rally us to stand with you.

Force us to mean it when we scream it: “ALL black lives matter.”


Black mamas who buried your wombfruit too early,

we need you to dig past your babies’ caskets.

We ask that you DIG DEEPER.

Black radical queers building intersectional spaces of praxis out of the ruin of oblivion,

don’t stop now—

don’t give in.

You inspire us.


Black feminists,

don’t stop convincing us that our efforts are historically one-sided,

that our contemporary work is still gender-blinded.

We need to be reminded,

so don’t leave the table jaded—

please continue to DIG DEEP.

White anti-racist comrades,

stop apologizing for them bigots who share your skin hue.

There’s more serious work to do.

So join us on the frontlines and DIG DEEP.

And finally,

to all of the exploited, toiling masses who the ruling class has given its tyrannical ass to kiss—

Stop puckering.

Start struggling.

Be committed to revolution now.



Demetrius Noble (better known as “D. Noble”) is a spoken word artist, activist, and an adjunct professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; he is a former Wadaran L. Kennedy Scholar of North Carolina A&T State University, where he received his M.A. in English and African American Literature. His work has appeared in African American Review, the Journal of Pan-African Studies, the Journal of Black Masculinity, Works and Days, and Red Wedge.


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