JAMESHA CALDWELL, 19
Baltimore-bred poet and storyteller Jamesha Caldwell strives to highlight the plight of her environment, Black womanhood, science, and all things hip hop. Caldwell’s advocacy is focused in changing the academic system to allocate educational and recreational resources for inner-city and criminalized youth. Growing up in the city of Baltimore, resources such as these were either non-existent or were extremely expensive and out of reach for her family. Caldwell hopes to help her peers in ways she was never afforded through her work in networks that provide youth with information and access to various organizations that promote literacy, STEM outreach, mentorship, mental health resources, nutritional and agricultural education.
In her writing, whether it's journalism, poetry, or playwriting, Caldwell combines narrative and exposition to convey nuanced aspects of her culture, dialect, and ideals of social reform. Caldwell loves mixing mediums because it grants her the ability to curate her own narrative and depict humanity, a power that she has not found in any other form of expression. While writing her final assignment in her college writing course, Caldwell was uncertain about defining her journey for a classroom full of undeniably privileged students. During her process, she had a major self-realization: that her story deserved to be told and should be shared without fear of consequence or judgement. By writing, Caldwell is not only bringing importance to her voice but helping to destroy negative perceptions of Black womanhood, poverty, and addiction.
Caldwell is currently a double major in Behavioral Neuroscience and Criminology at Notre Dame of Maryland University. She plans to utilize her degrees and activist passion to reform mental health and other issues within inner city juvenile criminal systems. Her writing has been published in Affinity Magazine and Baltimore City Paper, and she has performed at numerous spoken-word events including CityLit Festival, Baltimore Book Festival, and Writers Resist: Voices United.
by Jamesha Caldwell
This poem is for all of the women who have laid their bodies for me,
women who have become a sacrifice for rebellion, a memoriam for agency, a battleground for respect when words like bitches ain’t break their armor.
My body is my temple.
My body is my temple.
So let me get this through your fucking mental.
You touch me without my permission, I'm going to show I'm not a victim. Get it through your cranium, your cerebral system, your nucleus, that powerhouse that makes your powerhouse twitch.
I'm going to be more than a bitch. I'm going to be more than that witch. Imma show you a magic trick on how my tongue can turn into a whip. That'll give you whiplash so fast you better think fast, because my knuckles will turn to braze and you'll see my golden mask.
Golden mask made up of women who have been beaten, battered, brutally attacked, can't speak out and you know that that's a fact, but Imma rewind this shit back because I used to be a young woman who didn't have a voice. But I found that shit from within that deep end because I didn't have a choice.
My story goes like this.
When you get tied, you get tired. No one saw my tears, played on my fears, destroyed my sense of pride that I hid from reality. I sunk into a depression that drowns the souls of the forgotten, murdered by the rotten, corrupted by the disrupted. But 4'11 me had to have a fight with the enemy because when you get tied, you get tired.
I burned those chains, threw them into acid rain and said that I am free, and I'm going to find and only be me.
So my sisters that have no voice. I speak for you, I know what you've been through. I see only you for you. Ma, I know bitch isn't tattooed on your forehead. And I know you just want those young niggas to go ahead, but I know your mama taught you respect, a simple ideology that niggas seem to neglect.
Seems like, we are going to have to protect each other because we are all we got. We are unknown creations, simple revelations, with complex conversations. We are young women who stand down to commands and we don't take demands, We are often told to withstand from anything that isn't lady-like, Brady-like, and don't dare us to be crazy-like because that'll really piss them off.
But fuck them. It is in our Constitution of Womanhood and I as a fellow citizen say that we should expect respect, we should have the option to neglect, and if you see me uncomfortable bystander you should respond and protect.