In this arresting piece, the voice of Marlanda Dekine’s poem challenges our patterns of oppression in echo of Proverbs 31:3.
31 ¶ Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.
The Book of Proverbs has spoken to me throughout my life in many different ways. However, while sifting through its wisdom and being mindful of my personal gifts and my work, it was clear to me that illuminating Proverbs 3:31 was what I ought to do. For centuries, our nation has hidden from the oppression it has inflicted upon people who were not the founding norm—white, heterosexual, Christian, cisgender, and property-owning.
Today, without ongoing self-examination, we all—both white and of color—easily perpetuate the ongoing oppression of others. We have to understand that our current racial chasm is not an accident. The many black and brown bodies that have bled onto this soil are speaking to us. It is my hope that this poem will encourage us to listen, even when it is difficult. It is also my hope that through the work of knowing ourselves, we find ourselves engaged in an ongoing, courageous commitment of working towards true reconciliation and reparation.
Marlanda Dekine, also known as Sapient Soul, is a Licensed Master Social Worker, published poet, and facilitator. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Furman University and a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. Marlanda is the Founder and Executive Director of Speaking Down Barriers (www.speakingdownbarriers.org), a nonprofit organization that transforms our life together across the differences of race, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, and national identity.
She has facilitated and performed among various groups at trainings, seminars, and poetry slams across the United States. Most of her clinical work is in conducting therapy and forensic evaluations with children who have suffered child abuse or severe neglect. She is a transformer of space, using her poetry and gift of healing to organize people for powerful individual and community transformation.