Sankofa: My 30-Second Poem

I explain Sankofa to my son at the Portsmouth African Burying Ground.

Sankofa by Tonya Ward Singer

I cannot change history,

but in this moment I have a choice:

Do open my eyes to clearly see?

Or bequeath the blindness bequeathed to me?

Do I distance myself from racism in my own family tree?

Or seek to understand how it may have shaped me?

Do I speak truth about our shameful history?

Or bury it under the comfort of silence?



Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Teachers: Here are some questions you might ask to promote reflection and discussion. Choose ones relevant to your class, or write your own and post them in the comments to share with other readers.

  • What is the gist of the poem? What does it mean to you?
  • Why might the author use blindness as a metaphor?  What does blindness have to do with how history is recorded and shared? What does it have to do with racism?
  • Is the choice in this poem an example of white privilege? Why or why not?
  • Look up the meaning of sankofa. How might we apply the concept of sankofa at this point in our history to create a better future?
I lead professional learning and design curriculum to realize the vision that every kindergartener who enters public schools will graduate high-school prepared to thrive in a changing world.

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