Photos by Asia Stewart
Written by Tanya Terry
A recent local event was inspired by “Black Dandelion,” a poem by Semaj Brown that was sent all over the world to educators and was written through the eyes of a young girl living in an inequitable world. Community members were so engaged with the workshop they didn’t seem to want to leave!
During the recent Community-Wide Convergent Voice Workshop, girls from Konoura school in Togo, West Africa responded to the poem by acting out the food chain by becoming bees and flowers. In a video presented on the workshop date, the “bees” danced around the flowers, fertilizing them. The students and onlookers, therefore, became more familiar with the ecology of the “Black Dandelion” poem.
“The poem covers not just social problems, but it covers science and art and resilience,” stated Semaj Brown, who wrote “Black Dandelion.”
Boys from the same school performed art, as well as poetry. The poem they recited is titled “Black Dandelion Come Home To Me.” Through the poem, which seemed to have multiple meanings, the students, whose native language is Ewe, were also learning to speak English.
Students from Peckham were grieving the death of a classmate who died because of gun violence in 2023. Peckham students related to the poem “Black Dandelion.” They choose to express themselves through visual art with words from “Black Dandelion” next to the artwork.
Christian Blake, a student Greater Height Academy, recited an amazing poem responding to the “Black Dandelion” poem called “Flint is a Black Dandelion.”
Essays presented by workshop panelists included “On Becoming a Black Dandelion” by Edith Withey, “Equality, Empathy, and Energy in Semaj Brown’s Black Dandelion” by Sonya Marie Pouncy, “Dandelion Garden: A Walk through Convergent Consciousness” by Sunanda Samaddar, PhD and “Meaning: A Key to a Poem’s Heart.” by Darolyn Williams Brown.
“The power of panelists represented fertile ground where root fibers pierce the heart of imagination,” said Brown, Flint’s poet laureate.
Davina Whitaker spoke about Life Stage One: seed germination, rooting exploration and education.
Whitaker’s words were the perfect way to introduce Brown, who talked about Life Stage Two: Development and Growth. In talking about the evolution and progression of the “Black Dandelion” poem, Brown said it all progressed from an article called “Dandelion Revolution” in the Flint Courier News.
Intimate discussions were held when workshop participants were asked to answer five questions. They were asked what the statement “Black Dandelion Come Home to Me” meant, as well as if the dandelion was a flower or a weed and who gets to decide. They were asked what their three-step plan is to grow goodness in themselves, their families and their communities. Lastly, they were asked how we can prevent dandelions from getting mowed down and what the statement “I am a proud weed” means.
Elner Taylor said because of the impact she felt occurred due to the event “her heart was on fire.”
Flint resident Janet Cameron said she had no words or perhaps not the right ones to describe the “powerful” and “beautiful” event, which took place March 18 at the Flint Public Library. Cameron referred to Brown as a “force” that “is radiated to, used by and inspires others to ‘rise up.’”