ROOTS, Book One


ROOTS explores the intersectionality of black women in America, the unique double discrimination that they experience based on their race and gender, and the consequent omission of the black female voice from American history. Drawing inspiration from the African Diaspora and the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, ROOTS highlights the erasure of the black woman’s narrative and her journey in rooting her place in American society.

See video of full collection (ROOTS, Book One).


To Be Black Woman

Poem by Nadia May


"Woman be black

Woman be ripe and swinging 

From the tree of life

Like berry for the picking


Behind her eyes are two supernovas

All seeing portals to the workings of life

Like knowledge is born in her mouth

Like teeth gnashing behind sealed lips

With the secrets men have tried to hide

In the temple of her skull 

They rattle around like a deadly cry

But she was raised to endure

The constant sensation of death


Her mother before her warned

Of the deceit and ungratefulness 

Of man 

She'd say to her

Close your mouth for no one

For they will use your silence as power

They will cradle the curve of your spine 

Only to break it

To make themselves seem taller

They will mask 

The richness of your heritage

Behind watered down names

That are more palpable 

To their tongues

Never let them name you

Tell them who you are

Before they can utter anything else


Her daughter asks her often

Why men who come in the dead of night

Like to disguise themselves as sheep

When they are really wolves 

Frothing at the mouth with greed

Why they bite and beat at her skin

Like she is both forbidden fruit

And festering feast 

Why when they look at the dark onyx

That is her skin

They flee with tails between their legs


Woman says to her 

You be fierce

You be the beam of light

In the dark void of night

Beneath your skin

Maps the history of existence

Your veins hold deposits of gold

That shimmer like the sands

Of where your ancestors were born

In the crux of your thighs

Lies the heart of world

Men do not wage battles over you

Because you ARE the war

You are the first and the last

And the beginning and the end

Men are apt to forget 

Where they came from

And are known to be ignorant 

Of their finales


Do not fear the way they look at you

My precious sun and moon and star

You are black and hauntingly divine

A creature the world will always need 

And often forget to marvel

But when everything comes crashing down to nothing

Black woman 

Will always be."