By Llewella Dowling


See that fringe
Those tassels in the wind
Those are mine
My hard work…the end
Of my beginning…
The spirals and paisley
In this tapestry are
The effort and spin I’ve
Put forth in this wind…
Get off my carpet
Get off my breeze
Swiftly lifting to a 
Height – no fight
No fear in this air
I fly, soar, above
The shore of
Smallness and pebbles
And feeble antennas
Trying to pick, pick
My sick, sick mind
Get off my carpet
Get off my rug
And tug your own life
My wake is meant to
Inspire the fire
The legacy of my
Future and yours
Jump, leap, tumble
Fumble from an edge
And find your fence
Then cross it, don’t sit
On my
Threads, my weave, my
Web cuz my loom is
Lifting, swiftly swifting
See that fringe, those
Tassels in the wind…


I grew up in Bermuda, a small island off the coast of North Carolina. My mother was always a big inspiration for me- she never finished high school, but raised all five of us. 

Living in Bermuda, you’re exposed to a lot of black Bermudian history, so naturally, I grew up inspired by the educated Bermudians who came back to the island to teach, or be a part of the legal system, or those that impacted the community from a cultural perspective. 

Being a spoken word poet in Bermuda, I had this love for literature and language, and that actually inspired me to go to school for drama in England- first London and then Bristol. In Bristol, I had this great opportunity to teach drama and dance to a class of kids -all of color-  who lived in an at-risk area. I lived in that area too, because back then, that’s what I could afford. 

Each afternoon at that community center for creative arts, we would talk about creativity and life. They were so shocked to know that I was at the University of Bristol- because it’s very large, it’s in the city, and it’s dominated by Caucasians. I remember there were moments in every class when one of them would come up to me and would say, “I didn’t know I could do that too”. Hearing that was so gratifying. 

The idea of race is so subtle in Bermuda- it’s not as overt as it is in the US and the UK. I didn’t feel racial tension as much until I came to the US and actually lived here for many years. 

When I was in my 30’s, I was working in retail at Nordstrom, which is a pretty high end department store. I think that’s when I felt it first. A customer came in and talked to me in such a  derogatory tone. That was my first slap in the face. This persona had already made up her mind of who I am just by looking at me and lumping me based on my skin color. 

I spend quite some time having conversations with my son on resilience and the importance of knowing yourself. He’s only 8, so “knowing yourself” is still tough to wrap your mind around.

People of color are not supported emotionally in public. The emotions of people of color are misinterpreted- they’re stigmatized by what we all see on TV, or maybe through gossipy conversations. There’s an assumption of what a person of color would do in certain situations. 

Because my son is Black and American and a male and he is growing up in such a tense time- I’ve spent more time in this past year trying to help him understand that his emotions can bring on certain emotions to those outside of himself. He may have a bad day and be very expressive, and then get shot or arrested for it because somebody made an assumption that he’s a threat. People don’t think before they respond. 

Him being tense in this tense time is going to quadruple his chance of putting himself at risk. As a parent, I’m always trying to tie everything back to how he feels.