MOSES: A Letter to America – One Year Later

MOSES: A Letter to America - One Year Later

Dear America,

The praises of yours I once sung, I no longer sing.

Poems that once seemed sweet, have turned to bitter bits of words that rot from the inside out.

Dancing on the tip of my tongue, are no longer words that taste like my eulogy.

My pallet is cleansed of your hymnals and of patriotism that seeks to make a fool of me. Because in loving you, I am taught to despise my flesh and I would rather not know love than to know a love like this.

So, I am ridding myself of this country’s narrative which creates a monster of my people and reduces us to hashtags and headlines, skin and bones. The narrative that considers me animal before human and a coon caricature when convenient. That which turns my activism into defiance, and my words into bitter bread for the body.

Instead, I light the flame of truth that burns internally. The flame being proof of my humanity, of softness, and of love. Proof that I am not animal, and then human — I am human first, and always.

I first wrote a love letter to you, in which you did not respond. Silence followed and for the past year, I have been trying to understand how I can be everything to you, and nothing at all; trying to understand how you can move on so fast. But now, I see. I see that if I am not on my strings, then I am not of value to you.

This is not the bread that nourishes me anymore. Neither is a country that does not know me by name, so allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Hope Moses and I am a Black woman in America. This is not an easy feat. Just as vitamins, I swallow a hard truth daily:

No one learns to love Black women. Instead, they tell us to love ourselves. Feeding us self-love tips, from self-love books collecting dust on shelves. They say, “Black woman! Love yourself! If you don’t no one else will.”

I reject this thinking, for Black women deserve to love and be loved, even if we are made to feel unworthy.

Because on and below the surface, Black women are powerful beings.

Radiant, ethereal, pure.

Intelligent, passionate, beautiful.

And I would not wish to be any other woman — no matter the struggles I endure.

But there are also fears that come with being a Black woman in America. The fear that if I go missing, no one will search for my body. I will return to the same dust that birthed me —silently and without a trace.

According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, in 2020, 31% of missing people cases were Black people, although Black people make up only 13% of the population. The same year, 286,884 girls and women were missing, 90,333 — nearly 34% — of them were Black.

Because when a Black person, especially a Black woman, goes missing, no one searches for her. Because no one has learned to love the Black woman, her absence means nothing.

And unfortunately, this is not where the fears end.

The fear that someday I will give birth to a Black woman and/or a Black man, and they will find themselves, writing letters to you just as I am. Asking you, “why don’t you love me enough to protect me? Why does your hatred for my people run so deep, I am sentenced to irrelevancy, long before I am dead?”

I imagine the looks on my future children’s faces to be something similar to what I have seen on my own.

Fear. Grief. Pain.

It would be a miracle to make it out of the hospital seeing as Black women are three times more likely to die from childbirth than any other group of women in this country.

This kind of nightmare does not close in on you when you are sleeping. As a Black woman, it is a part of your reality; you cannot run nor can you hide.

But I am more than a Black woman in America.

I am a poet.

Not by choice, yet I shoulder the responsibility of being such. Because in these words, lies Black liberation. And if freedom is the goal, these words have created a hill for which I am prepared to die on.

Words as sweet as honey cut deep like shards of glass underneath the foot which will crush the head of the serpent. Making my words holy and God-given, and you, nothing more than evil.

And in saying that, I recognize I am more than a poet.

I am a mother; I have given birth to more joy, and more pain than you could ever know.

I am a daughter, sister, friend. I am a lover of things, student of life and woman.

I sing my own praises and recite my own poems. I march to the beat of my own drum, and this is my national anthem.

So, America, you got it all wrong.

I am not your shadow, you are mine; I am always one step ahead of you.

Out of the shadows,

Hope Moses.

This story was written by Hope Moses. She can be reached at hope.moses@marquette.edu