Recap: Performing at the African Diaspora Awards / by Shanelle Gabriel

This past Saturday, I was blessed to be the opening performer for the 6th Annual African Diaspora Awards at the Florence Gould Hall on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Hosted by comedian and Instagram sensation, Dulo (@iamdulo), the show recognized some powerhouses who've made great contributions to the African community and the world around us. 

I was asked to write a poem for the event which is below. It was great to see the other performers grace the stage including Ayo (who was EXCELLENT and a privilege to meet), Afrobeat artist Owen, soulful singer Mayoa as well as the internationally known Sarcodie.  

I opted to wear a dress that formerly was my mother's. It felt appropriate thinking about legacy and ancestors within the Diaspora who've bestowed their spirit to us in their passing. Check out the photos below! 

Pre-show posing with Dulo, our host

Pre-show posing with Dulo, our host

A blessing meeting Ayo.  

A blessing meeting Ayo.  

The Kingsmen Band backed me up for my performance. They were so dope (and quite dapper!) 

The Kingsmen Band backed me up for my performance. They were so dope (and quite dapper!) 

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"If you wan chop frog, make you chop better frog, make you chop better frog, make you chop better frog"

I found this saying odd/ until I learned the importance of/ always doing things big/ huge/ tremendous/ If you gonna do it/ then you better do it/ in some cases less isn't considered more/ especially when it comes to hands, to hearts/ to black skin/ that melanin that holds fast to the legacy within/ call every tribe kin/ whether naija or Brooklyn/ whether from the soul of the Congo or the streets of Chicago/ we're not as different as we seem/ the same history/ the same painter but varied color schemes/ your heart pumps fire from heaven just like mine/ and it's a waste of time trying to keep us divided by bloodlines/ we're in the same family connected by ties that are divine/ whether African or African-American/ Caribbean/ or if you   Reside in another nation/ you're still the Diaspora's foundation/ and if we come together/ imagine the trails we'll blaze/

So let's be butterflies y'all/ but with caterpillar ways/ flap our wings always shine but never forget the ground from which we came/ take the hard world around us and turn it into silk/ no reason bridges crossed and broken can't be rebuilt/ whether it's by plane or via ship/ whether dropped off at islands during the trip/ whether hands were bloodied with liquid, solid gold or sugar cane strips/ whether cotton or coffee/ we lived to see this/ we breathed to be this/ We fought to be this/ unified by clenched fists/ unified by clenched fists/ unified by clenched fists/ Let them know we were born to be this/ we were born fly like this/ yes we woke up like this/ yes we woke up like this/ we rock our crowns like this/ and we're united like this/ we dragging a painful past/ together reclaiming our worth/ Baanu so a emmia/ When two carry, it does not hurt/ So here's to he Diaspora united/ Sprinkling our blessings on this earth