Jo’Nella Queen: at brown

Thursday, May 21, 2015
This article is part of the series Commencement Magazine 2015

at brown, i learned how to be black

and of the intersectional-

multilingual-diasporic beauty

strength and power we hold.

we were never meant to prance

around this campus


tickled with serenity

shout                       whisper

soulful melodies and


or              dance

at brown I learned how to be black

how to dance

and that this place was not built for

us but by people who

look like us.

That this was              after this land



from our                      Wampanoag           

          and                      Narragansett

brothers and sisters

that this place was sustained by

investments in the China Trade

we were never meant to lie on the

grass and take in the sun



sharing our life stories

and just breathe

I didn’t know or truly understand the

value of community


Home away home

Until I looked in your eyes

And felt you see me

at brown, i learned how to be black

to find God, myself and love Her


we were never meant to

you were never meant to

I was never meant to

And yet we’re here

We have

And this is as much of a beginning as

an ending

at brown I’ve learned that it’s hard to

be a student

To be

Black Brown Yellow Red



Sister in Christ,

And that friendship is both easy

and trying and

that love is love is love and comes in so many forms

and that I deserve it.

Jo’Nella Queen is a Multiracial Puerto Rican American Afro-Indígina poet-scholar-activist among other things. She is leaving Brown, but Queen will keep writing, laughing, healing and resisting.

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