6 Times nayyirah waheed Embodied ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Poetry

book reviews

If you haven’t already fallen in love with nayyirah waheed, now’s the time to do so. Her poetry, popularized through social media, is oftentimes short and powerful– some lines reading more like one brief self affirmations. Like Warsan Shire, she manages to talk about a long list of societal and internal struggles. Her 2013 latest book, salt., is an insightful exploration of identity that will resonate with those who have been following the racially charged events of last week and beyond.

Keep reading for some of my favorite picks:

Salt Trayvon Martin

Where it all began– the pain of a mother who had lost a child. That pain was felt many times before Trayvon, but it was one of the first that got me in the streets.

Nayyirah-Waheed angry

The anger held by people of color and other oppressed  communities is palpable, but justified. It’s not wrong to be mad at a system that has organized your oppression. 

Nayyirah-Waheed colorblind

Many people who may mean well fundamentally misunderstand people of color: we want acceptance, not colorblindness. In many cases, our color the associated cultures make us who we are. Declaring willful ignorance of that color is not helpful.

Salt Comfortable Waheed

While discomfort is often a byproduct of progress, that’s never the central theme of a movement. White people are not the center of BLM– people of color are. It should be obvious, but it’s not.

Nayyirah Waheed burn the world down

This one really spoke to me, and reminded me of a tweet I’d seen that said something similar. The movement wants equality, not retribution. 

Nayyirah Waheed understanding


This poem could apply to infinite scenarios, particularly BLM. When you identify someone’s privilege how they react is very telling. For me, a blind friend saying I have privilege isn’t hurtful– merely an opportunity to learn more about our differences. 

Nayyirah waheed’s poems speak for themselves, and are much more eloquent than anything I could drum up myself. Each of these six poems address, whether directly or indirectly, the heart of Black Lives Matter. A movement about accountability. About soothing the emotions of a childless mother. About understanding the depth of the pain people of color feel without judgement, victim blaming, or crying reverse racism. About seeing people of color for who they are– as people who want to live to see another day.

nayyirah waheed on: Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

This was technically supposed to be my Top 10 Tuesday, but I didn’t want to wait another day. Honestly, I’m not a huge connoisseur of poetry, but I know when I love something. Are they any other poets who really speak to you? Poets who make you think you could pick up a pen and write something great? Drop their names or poems in the comments! 

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  1. […] 6 Times nayyirah waheed Embodied ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Poetry […]


  2. […] isn’t a book you read once and give away– like Between the World and Me, Citizen, Salt, and Baldwin himself, The Fire This Time is an undaunted examination of America’s racial […]


  3. […] 6 Times Nayyirah Waheed Embodied ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Poetry: This started off as a review of Salt., but ended up being so much more. This might be my favorite post on the blog at the moment. […]


  4. […] 6 Times Nayyirah Waheed Embodied ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Poetry (brownbooksandgreentea.com) […]


  5. Wow! After you recommended I read Salt I placed a hold on it at my library and I am number 16 in line for it. Another poetry waiting list I am happy for. And now I am really looking forward to when my turn comes around after reading your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! So glad you decided to check it out. I promise promise PROMISE it will be worth the wait!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love the snippets you have chosen through the photographs. SO much emotion is such few words

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really makes me wish I were a poet. No way could I do so much with so little.

      Liked by 1 person

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