Crystal Irby’s poem in response to Ecclesiastes 3:3 examines the painful road to hope and healing.
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Freedom is not only about access to opportunity, power, and capital. Freedom is also about being dedicated to healing by letting go of internalized oppression.
The truth is we live in a country that implements legislation dedicated to the destruction of Black folks. We live in a country founded through war and built on violence perpetuated against enslaved and indigenous peoples. The goal of white supremacy is to convince everyone including Black people, marginalized folk and indigenous people, our pain isn’t real, to make us comfortable witnessing our brutality and seeing our own blood. Therefore white supremacy will never give us what we need to heal because it’s built on the belief we are not human, that our purpose is to endure and so…
Our healing is up to us and it is not a burden or destination but a commitment to a journey towards wholeness. This poem was born out of the belief that the Promised Land, the world we imagine, is available right now. All we have to do is look around and see the foundation being laid. This poem is born out of the belief that the struggle is real but not everlasting. This poem is born out of the belief that no one is coming to save us. God is here now. This poem is born out of the belief that battle and the balm exist simultaneously because the truth is if healing is not a part of our freedom the foundation we build on will collapse and we will eat each other alive because we know not what else to do.
Crystal Tennille Irby is a spoken word poetry grand slam champion, published writer, director and identifies as a #BlackMamaCreative, an artist creating work across multiple artistic disciplines centering Black mothering, absent of the white gaze. She is a doula and the current co-host and executive producer of Dem Black Mamas Podcast, a podcast that delves into the unique experience of 3 Black Mama Creatives raising free children while catching their creative dreams. Crystal is a TEDxGreenville presenter, a Watering Hole Poetry Fellow and the founder and Director of Writers Well Youth Fellowship, a program for Black girls ages 14-19 focused on writing and performance. Her recent credits include, Untitled Reconstruction Project, which she directed and co-produced and Untamed Womb: Reclaiming Wonder Through Healing, Liberation & Creativity, a Project Row Houses installation which she co-curated. She was also a contributing writer for For Harriet. In addition to her creative endeavors, Crystal has presented at numerous conferences including Black Maternal Health Conference & Training Institute; Let’s Talk About Sex, & HIV Prevention & Education Summit. Crystal has over 15 years of experience working to dismantle systemic and institutional racism. She works as a community doula helping Black birth persons stay connected to their body and as a facilitator for Speaking Down Barriers pushing communities forward by helping Black people heal from race and gender trauma. She also served on the board of Hub City Writers Project, a place based non-profit press committed to publishing southern writers.
Crystal is the mother of 4 children and shares her life with an Omega man.