Last week on inauguration day, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, joined the ranks of famous poets like Maya Angelou who recited the poem “The Hill We Climb” as a laudation to the new administration. Many poets and artists were likewise inspired by the momentous occasion, including Kashvi Ramani, writer, actress, songwriter, and singer from Northern Virginia, who qualified to the DC Youth Slam Team, and was inspired to write this slam poem honoring Kamala Harris and mothers in general. She pays tribute to mothers, harkening back to her own mother’s advice and to the advice that Shyamala Harris, Kamala Harris’ mother, gave to her. In doing this she brings to focus the role of South Asian mothers who motivate their daughters to achieve.
Ramani is currently a freshman pursuing a dual program in high school (Entrepreneurship and Theater/Film). She has been writing songs, poetry, scripts, and other forms of writing for much of her life. This is her first year participating in slam poetry and qualified to the DC Youth Slam Team. In second grade she won her first poetry competition, going on to win $5K for her elementary school after writing a rap in fourth grade, and was granted a Silver Medal at the National Level for her submission to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
A Slam Poem for Kamala Harris
Amma always said “go do something.” I’m bored on a lazy Sunday, scared for what may happen to our world, modeling in the uncut stems of our backyard. “Find something productive. Then fix it. Think bigger, Kashvi, bigger.”
Shyamala Harris always said “go do something,” whether her daughter was bored at school or conducting a mock trial with her sister in the comfort of her duplex. “Find something productive. Think bigger, Kamala, bigger.”
Born in a nation of freedom and peace, but 8,000 miles across the sea is a piece of our identity. A life never lived, a story never told, a part we never really formed into a whole. For her, her mother groomed her to see the world with screened eyes. “Understand they see you with a black filter, accept it, but never expect the worst.” The saris were banished to the back of her closet.
I never had them to begin with. White picket fences line the street, American flags flap in the gusts of wind I never got used to. Maybe the drops of moisture beading my forehead at every hour of the day in India suits me better. The life fulfilled, the story written,
where I’m treated like a princess, maids and drivers at my command. Or at least where princesses like me exist.
The foundation of Kamala’s steady home was rattled early on, couldn’t take on the world with the broken shards of her glass heart. So she picked up the pieces and hid them, her head leading instead of her chest. She would make her mother proud.
And I was a bird at birth. Just itching to fly home, wherever that is. I never belonged here, or there, or anywhere, really, but each time my mind would get wrapped around itself, my mother would call with a megaphone to jumpstart my brain, would tell me exactly where I was. Say these wings would know someday, so take it step-by-step. I knew that I would make her proud.
Kamala soared. Said dethrone the “king,” campaigning to run our country. Or rather, sit by its side. Hand-picked for her love, or was it her color? The best option to grace the ballot, or is it the lesser of two evils? Now she’s caught. How can she fly when her wings are clipped by the people she hopes to govern?
“Go do something.” Clock hands tick. “Go do something.” Another life lost. “Go do something,” even when you’re caged; “Go do something, go do something,” because a caged bird can still sing.
Her mother, decorated in the stars like constellations, lives in her glass heart, and reminds Kamala of the hope that keeps her from nose-diving with every comment of “not black
enough” or “brown enough”, (they say I’m not Indian enough, not white enough,) every “Trump 2020,” two words set on a loop as a comeback to all accusations, even a year
later, (they always have a jeering reply when I stand up for what I believe in,) every “a woman is not fit to lead.” (I could never thrive in a male-dominated field.)
But her presence is strong enough to dispel all accusations, her mother’s name the wind under her wings to keep her aloft. Began as Kamala Harris, a little girl with big dreams and a strict mom that taught her independence. Was once Senator Kamala Harris, the first South Asian senator. Is now Vice President Harris, the first female, black, and Indian Vice President in American History.
It’s inauguration day in 2021, and the new start has already been tainted by a sea of red. Can’t handle defeat, excuse after excuse tumbling from the king of hearts. But he won’t have the power to behead any longer.
Her Amma always said go do something. So she does.
“For centuries, justice has been symbolized as a woman, blindfolded, a scale in her hands. Her eyes are covered because justice shouldn’t depend on the color of your skin. It shouldn’t depend on how much money you have. Justice should be impartial.”
Amma always said go do something. So I do. I don’t let them tell me that my birth year makes me any less advised, or that the color of my skin determines my rights. I don’t let them preach that my sex keeps me earthbound.
8,000 miles across the sea, but these wings need not spread right away. I’ve found a home and I’m here to stay.