New Poem (For Ida & Charleena): i refuse

June 19, 2017—In the wake of the exoneration of Minnesota police officer, Yanez, who murdered Philando Castile and the recent killing of mother of four, Charleena Lyles. It’s time for a new liberatory paradigm:

i refuse

i refuse
to live my days in emptiness & fear
you will not take my life
before my life is done

how dare you
even try to kill me

born to Earth Mother
i belong here
i refuse to go
until she tells me so

i will curl my toes
in cool greenness of her hair
laugh out loud
skin-soaked through tickling rain
hear cardinal’s red song in my backyard
each day east way
thank her sun for yellow orange rising
warming me awake
yet survived
warrior woman
one more time
yes, that was me
i destroyed your creatures grown bold by night’s disguise
the ones i let you put behind my eyes
despairing lies of who i am

how dare you
even try to kill me

i refuse to cower
in the wake of your unworthiness
can’t dissect me
disconnect me
hell, you can’t even catch me

forgot Earth Mother’s ancient rivers course my veins
her silken stars sprinkle
my spine
gather in my breasts
drip shine down each finger
rest orb-like in open palms

remind me
my body is my birth certificate

i refuse
hollow soulless tombstone
numb spaces
you’ve sentenced me to
inside myself

it’s not my ‘hood

with each breath
i am my sword
sparks leap from my chest
light the steps before me

i am coming for you

in whatever time is left
i will not run away

i refuse

you will not own me
(you never have)


face you
eye to eye
see your devil eyes
bring all of me
fully present in the now

though you try to hide
behind your puny gun
you will taste me in your throat

i am here

heart open
to the last
humanity intact

even as your coward’s bullets rip my flesh
i will hold the final image
of your naked fear
while unafraid
i hear my dying
signal all the others
born to take my place.

–Anika Nailah (c) 2017

Talks Underway to Bring Tour Experience to Amherst College

May 24, 2014—-Ingrid Askew, NLPTE Theatrical Director and Anika Nailah, are engaged in negotiations to have Amherst College in Amherst, MA host the Nat’l Liberation Poetry Tour Experience for the 2014-2015 School Year.  “In the light of all the recent activities of solidarity against blatant and institutional racism this school year in Amherst,” Anika said, “It will be important to give community members and students a place to continue healing and bonding.” Visit for more information about what’s going on in the local Amherst community.

Blazing the Trail in Greenfield, MA

Tour Experience at Smith College—Amazing!

White Women’s Caucus Group Spawned by Liberation Conversation Project: 2 Yrs Later– Still Going Strong!

The white women who came to the first meeting of the Liberation Conversation Project in October 2012 have been meeting regularly in the Western Massachusetts area . They come together to discuss the ways in which they can support each other in interrupting racism in their lives. Bravo to our white sisters! We wish you all the best as you continue to show up to do your work, and hope the reverberations will be felt in your respective communities.

African American Women & White Women Talk About Their Relationship in America

History will happen in Springfield, MA on October 27, 2012! There was a contingent of white women who were so moved by my performance in Florence , MA on August 25, 2012,  that they agreed to be part of a brand new project birthed right there–The Liberation Conversation Project. It will be a conversation between African American women and white women about the history of our relationship here in the United States. The white women, myself, and some other African American women, some in association with The Interfaith Middle Passage Pilgrimage , have agreed to sit across the table from each other and be filmed, as we talk about that white elephant—slavery, and the ways in which women of color felt betrayed by white women’s alliance with white supremacy, our areas of commonality in that experience, how our historical relationship has effected our relationships in 2012, and how we can move past what has happened  to a more authentic alliance. Check back for more information about that historic event.

Anika Makes Major Decision As a Result Springfield, MA Performance

After Anika gave her October performance at the Renaissance Artspace in Springfield, MA, she was so inspired by a group of audience members, that she committed to a life-changing decision. She decided to no longer put chemicals of any kind in her hair. More than twenty years ago, she had stopped getting any kind of processes at the beauty salon, but this was the final step toward completely natural hair. Anika cleaned out her bathroom shelves of anything she had been putting in her hair that had any chemicals in it, and has now gone completely natural. “It’s a whole new world,” she said, “Even in the 60s we were all using chemicals in our Afros. There is a movement now on the part of my Black sistas especially to love the hair we were born with, thus, loving ourselves more completely. I am proud to be part of it! How liberating to not have to spend hours in the mirror in the morning making sure I look just right for white folks and my brothas and sistas. God forbid that I should reveal what my hair is really like!”