Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"It's better to take a chance and be wrong than to be safe and dull." - Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni - teacher, commentator, activist, comedian, poet. What more could Giovanni be? To me, Giovanni is an inspiration. She is so influential to not only the students she teaches at Virginia Tech but also her children and the many people that believed in her "Black Poetry."

I think that my favorite poem written by Nikki Giovanni would be Nikki-Rose because it is so meaningful and well-thought out. You know, when I think about the history and the lives the African Americans lived in the 1900s, I imagine that they weren't happy because they didn't have equality. However, when I read Giovanni's poem, I get a different sense of what life was like at the time. In the beginning, Giovanni says, "childhood remembrances are always a drag" and names a few irritating things she had to put up with. As the poem progresses, she names several things that are often not though about past the issues of Civil Rights.

Although the struggle to gain equality for African Americans was not pleasant and was something that we could have gone without, it is reassuring to know that Black people during this time period continued to live their lives normally. I think Giovanni understands that White people do not normally understand this when she says, "I really hope no white person ever has cause/to write about me/ because they never understand/Black love is Black wealth and they'll/probably talk about my hard childhood/and never understand that/all the while I was quite happy."

I love Giovanni for so many reasons, but this would have to be my favorite. Rather than dwelling on the hardships she had to go through in order to gain equality, she tries to explain that through it all, she was sincerely happy. Nikki Giovanni often wrote her poems about her heritage and race which was important as she grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee (she even wrote a poem about her hometown). Her childhood influenced her poetry significantly and I can see that through this poem. Although her father and her family may have had some broken dreams, she didn't have to have the fancier things in life to be simply happy

Find happiness in the small things, don't dwell on the things that hold you back, keep pushing forward, no matter what - those are only some of the many things I've learned from Nikki Giovanni.