Happy Birthday Jawara, My Amazing Son

They Will Not Take Youjajachampaign
by Opal Palmer Adisa


April  29 – May 4,1992 marks the LA’s riot as a result of the acquittal of 4 LAPD officers recorded beating  and using excessive force on Walter Rodney.  My son was almost one year old, and police brutality and the lynching and abuse of Blacks, but specifically African American men, had been institutionalized and normalized. I decided that my son would not be a victim to this system. I wrote, “I Will Not Let then Take You,” then as a pledge to him, but now with the wave of protest over the killing of George Floyd, and other African American men and women with deadly force by the police, I’ve upgraded the poem by reaffirming my commitment to my son who is now thirty one years old and living in LA.  I have also changed the title.


Tell them

Tell them loud and clear

your mother is a crazy Jamaican woman

who will wage war for you

who refuses to sacrifice you

to racism


You will breathe

You will breathe

your ancestors breathed for you

to live with dignity

unafraid that your life-breath

will be kneed-out


Tell them

Tell them

I will not surrender you to distressed streets

I will not leave you for dope dealers

I will not abandon you to the police

who  targets you –a black man


You will breathe

You will breathe

We all breathe for you


What is the language of tomorrow

that we mothers and sisters

and lovers and wives must speak

words seeped in future years

words that raise you

to soar beyond the heavens

to dance in the lap of life

and sleep in the belly of laughter


Tell them

Tell them

you have a mother

who remembers

she endured

in getting you here

and she will not give you up

will not give you up

to no one


Your breath is filtered

through rosemary water

and eucalyptus oil

so you can leap

you are heir to the next generation

whose path has been cleared

by the blood of your forefathers

who were silenced


whose present were usurped

from them

but still they insisted

on being men so you

could leap


You will breathe

You will live

for all those


You will live



Tell them

Tell them

Your motheropaljajb 2

will not give you  up

but to love of

your own dreams


Tell them

your mother

insists you breathe






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