Never have I read a more powerful end to anything than that to the opening of “Caged Bird”.
If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat.It is an unnecessary insult.
She first exploded into the stratosphere of my consciousness as a prototype of a beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, self-confident woman.
I needed a prototype for self-confidence.
That she was Black was irrelevant.
My own published memoir, Tree Lines (which has now sold about 125 copies) is all about my continuing struggle to become what I am, without apology. To find my own voice. To stand tall (even at 5’ 1”).
I loved my mom but she hunched under the axis of my father. Other female ancestors were stronger, in varying degrees, but I had no real model for self-actualization.
Until I heard Maya Angelou speak. Then read her books. Then saw her on television. Then read her books again.
She was right of course. The displacement of Blacks is an unnecessary insult. So is the displacement of Latino/Hispanics and Muslims and, above all, WOMEN wherever they happen to fall on the racial/religious spectrums.
I rode into hope on the sound waves of her voice.
I thank her for that.
She is missed.