She has been told she is ugly. She has been told she is not wanted. She has been told she has no value or right to live by many people, even by the very same people who would use and abuse her, all the while having their hands out taking, and taking from her.
But, underneath all the hate that has been cast her way, she has always been beautiful no matter what or whom has sought to tear her to pieces .
She was always beautiful, no matter what or whom told her otherwise.
Poet Waring Cuney saw the beauty of Black women and in his most famous poem, “No Images”, which won first prize in the 1926 Opportunity poetry contest, he declared his respect and love for all that was beautiful about Black women, even in a world that constantly told them they were not beautiful.
The only known audio recording of this poetic tribute to Black women is found on the jazz singer/pianist/songwriter Nina Simone LP, Let It All Out, released by the Verve label in 1966.
Sung a cappella, the haunting vocals of Ms. Simone divulge the heartbreak, sorrow, and resignation that has been the lot of millions of Black women in this nation. This nation that has shown the face of hate and atrocities against the dignity and humanity of Black women.
There are no rivers on streets.
There are no palm trees.
But, there is still a beauty in Black women that has no comparison.
Here is Harlem Renaissance poet Waring Cuney’s wonderful ode to the enduring and endearing beauty that is Black Woman as sung by the inimitable and gorgeous Ms. Nina Simone.
She does not know
she thinks her brown body
has no glory.
If she could dance
under palm trees
and see her image in the river,
she would know.
But there are no palm trees
on the street,
and dish water gives back