• Call + Response

Please Call Me by My True Name: A Journey for Understanding by Ken Williams

A poem on ancestry.

Photograph by Rodion Kutsaev

Please Call Me by My True Name: A Journey for Understanding

I am the embodied spirit of my ancestors

I am the rich, red, soil of Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Mali – Africa

I am the offspring of West African Kings and Queens

I am the earth, the air, the fire, and the water

I am life

I am the slave master and the occupant of his ship

I am the offspring of abduction, displacement, and human trafficking

I am the ship, the bow, the stern, the rudder, the coal

I am life

I am the sun that dances and kisses the mountainous ridges of the Caribbean

I am the colonizer and the colonized

I am their supremacist thoughts that influenced my upbringing

I am the product of the volcanic soil deep within my Caribbean ancestors

I am life

I am the plantation owner, the stevedore, the worker, and the field hand picking bananas and

cutting sugar cane

I am the offspring of hard-working resilient strong people

I am my grandmother, my grandfather, my mother, my father, my brother, my family

I am my mother’s tenderness and my father’s fire and persistence

I am life

I am the pain I feel from living in this racist white supremacist society

I am of sound mind and ability to see it and not be gaslighted by it

I am the friend to my pain, it guides me and protects me

I am what I am, a survivor, vulnerable, connected healthy thriver, take no bullshit social justice

fighter, disrupter, educator, program developer, researcher, storyteller, friend.

I am what I am, I am, I am,

I am life.

Ken Williams currently works in the field of Youth Programs Development and Research and studies in the Masters of Social Work program at York University. Williams is a life long learner who enjoys understanding and listening to people’s life stories. His enjoyment of the arts led him to his current interest in innovative approaches in reaching and engaging with young people in ways that will build resilience, empowerment, and self- esteem through culturally relevant pedagogy.