I am Annika, I am All

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

By Annika Leonard

I am an educator in a couple of Milwaukee Public Schools and I engage youth between the ages of 14 to 21. As part of a homework assignment, I asked my class to tell me how they see themselves. To model the level of thought I wanted to see in their poems I completed my own. The purpose of the poem is to give you a snapshot into how I see myself. I could have told you I see myself in every woman of the African Diaspora, but I decided to honor the names, the victories, the struggles and the relationship I have to the women listed below.


History, the bitter memory of this country’s injustice:

I am the we’ll rape you and say you wanted it, beat you and say you deserved it, and force pregnancy upon you then take your family, they belong on the auction block, too!


I am Venus and Serena, two of America’s greatest tennis players of the past decade because I played a little tennis in high school.


I am Gabby Douglas; I became the first African-American woman ever to take gold in the all-around individual title in gymnastics.


I am the first lady Michelle Obama and your stereotypes don’t stick.

I am Angela Davis, once one of the FBI’s most wanted and one of the nation’s experts on the prison industrial complex.

I am Assata Shakur, member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army because I believe in all power to the people.

I am Audre Lorde because when I speak I am afraid my words will not be heard or welcomed. But when I am silent, I am still afraid. So I will speak knowing I was never meant to survive.

I am Ida B. Wells, characterized as a militant and uncompromising leader for her efforts to abolish lynching and establish racial equality.

I am Anita Hill, still standing up and speaking out.

I am Mapping the Margins with Kimberly Crenshaw, author of the intersectionality theory.


I am Rosa Parks, quit saying I was tired, I’m an activist and it was a strategy.

A Black woman experiencing violence in America:

I am Crystal Mangum, when I accused those three Lacrosse players of raping me my case was fueled by stereotypes of race and class.

I am Rekia Boyd, the unarmed Black woman who was shot in the head by an off-duty Chicago detective on Wednesday, March 21.

I am Marissa Alexander; I received 20 years for firing a warning shot in the air.

I am the nine month pregnant Raven Dozier, kicked in my stomach by a police officer and forced to have an emergency c-section.


I am your “nappy headed hoes” your “Obama’s Baby Mama” and your “Black and Bleu” burger

I am your video vixen, your dream girl, your superhead and your love jones.

Speaking my truth:

I am a child witness to domestic, sexual and community violence.

I am a survivor of sexual assault.

I am but if you love her how could you hurt her?

I am a man of God, but I’ll beat the sh*t out of your mom Monday through Saturday when no one’s looking.

I am forgive but don’t forget, yeah he touches little kids but he’s safe to be in the church unattended.

I am what do you mean I can’t get pain killers because I’ll sell them, what about my pain?

I am where the fight for reproductive health and justice intersect, I stand for reproductive justice.

I am the daughter of a warrior, her spirit cannot be broken.

I am sister to Gladys, Erika, Melissa, Shay, Aisya, Cretia, Eric, Junior, and Daniel.

I am the teen mother who confused sex with love, the mother of chocolate chip and brown sugar, they carry my legacy.

The single mother who is called bitter yet, you’ve never laid eyes on your child in your life.

I am survival sex, no I don’t want to but if I don’t, where will I sleep?

I am sistafriend to the fiercest activists walking; they don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

I am the name you will never see in a history book.

I am The Color Purple and The Colored Girl who Considered Suicide Because the Rainbow Isn’t Enough.

I am the fiercest advocate for justice you may ever meet.

I am our struggles, I am our strengths, and I am our deepest secrets, our internal lies.

It is my duty to speak the truth as I see it, my strengths, my struggles, my deepest secrets and my internal lies.

Annika Leonard is a participant in a collective of Black women bloggers supported by Strong Families. She is committed to the challenge of organizing against oppression - a task that has led her to direct action, critical dialogue, and to a life of service. She is an educator, mother, daughter, and survivor who lives and works in Wisconsin.