I met Velynn Brown–slam-poet, writer, and speaker–at a writer’s conference in Portland, Oregon. It was early spring, and the cherry trees were shedding their blossoms on the parking lot of Warner Pacific College. Velynn and I shared a retreat conversation, one in which I praised the beauty of the cherry-blossom carpet and the pink-skirted azaleas. She spoke of nature, too. “See the black sap tears on the fir? God is crying with us.”
Velynn stood in the shadow of Ferguson, in the fresh grief of the brutal detention and subsequent death of Freddie Gray, and she asked me, “do black lives matter?” Sure, we’ve all seen the hashtag. But when your sister looks you in the eye, when she removes the “#”, inserts spaces, and slaps it with a question mark made for you, the equation changes.
Velynn is a poet and passionate social justice advocate. She’s a joyful psalmist and a modern incarnation of lamentation. But more than any of these things, she is my sister. I trust her. I’ve invited her to share words with us via my Tiny Letter, and she’s offered a piece of poetry. Sign up to receive the Tiny Letter by clicking this link, and I’ll make sure you receive a copy of her words. They’re powerful and good.
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