Sarah Downs

Sarah is a Front Royal citizen attending Shenandoah University where she is double majored in Public Health and Political science. She volunteers in the community with organizations such as Reaching Out Now and Rise Against Hunger. She was a scholarship award recipient of the Front Royal Rotary due to her dedication to helping others and always telling the truth. Her passion for the truth translates directly into her poetry and blog. She has a blog called Humility in Unknown Possibilities where she writes reflective pieces on various topics, and she also uses that platform to publish poetry. She is the recipient of the 2020 Gorden Link Poetry Prize at Shenandoah University for her poem Visibility. She hopes to run for office in the future and is currently focused on making an impact in her local community and at Shenandoah university.

We are honored that Sarah has agreed to share her poetry with FRWRC.  Her passion, determination, and wisdom inspires us.  We highly recommend you follow Sarah's Blog - www.humilityinpossibility.com

A message: Dedicated to the Front Royal Women’s Resource Center.

How do we navigate in an ever-evolving world?
How do we realize the potential us women hold?
How can we move away from the years where we were told:
“you my love are destined to be a mother, or house maker,
but not a CEO”
This is the question that remains with me.
How do we truly encourage our young girls, to pursue in math and science,
when those at the table don’t look like them?
How do we encourage our young women to pursue business?
when they don’t feel valuable, confident, and fearless?
We must create a sense of urgency
We must purposefully propose a new normalcy,
in which women are at the table and in the room.
There needs to be a change in congressional seats, and in company’s
Where women are more than just a mere percentage
but instead a respected advantage.
I hope for a future in which women of all sizes, voices, and colors are seen.
Not for their looks, or their hair, or for what they wear.
But instead for their proposals, contributions, and educations.
Where equal pay is an assumption, and paid medical leave isn’t a burden.
I hope my nieces are seen for their ideas, and creativity.
I hope we are seen for what we are: smart, assertive, persistent, and confident.
We hold the strength of our mothers and grandmothers.
And when we show up, speak, and are working together for the better
we have limitless power.
I propose the question again.
How do we realize the potential us women hold?
I think the first step is to memorize this.
“I am more than enough.”

VISIBILITY

by Sarah Downs

I’m scared
My brown skin
What can I do to hide the complexion?
How can I avoid my reflection?

I had hopes that my education would take center stage
I hoped that my observations would stand incorrect
I hoped that my accomplishments would move me farther
And yet here I stand,
Being told I am that smart brown girl; fear crept closer

The nearer the comment to the heart
The farther our nation drives apart
The nearer the comment to the brain
The tighter the chains

The commendation.
The narration of all I can accomplish despite this complexion
The interpretation always with darkened eyes
The standing ovation, a pity donation

This golden reflection, ashened, merely tolerated
A moment to highlight your acceptance
And hide your resistance as I make advancements
An hour in time in which you choose to forget how you echoed silence

Silence.
complacent behavior.
Silence.
Americas failure

My brown skin. The skin I want to hide, dye light,
My fear irrational but proven rational at times when I must fight to survive
I apologize for my sacrifice
Hiding is what I have been conditioned to do.
But its time to become new. Become true.

It is time to debut my skin.
Release my hair. The kinky curls shall live without care.
My golden derma, oiled in butter
It is time to breathe American air, toxic and pure.
My bronzed body shinning in the sunlight
I will lift ev’ry voice and sing
I will release from the chains tightened around me
Its time to stop the policing of my brown reflection.

My generation will make sure Incarceration is no more
Education my generations new norm
The cycle will be broken
We have spoken
Equality no longer a choice
Hostility no longer tolerated
complacency, and silence too.
My generation will no longer face oppression.
We will no longer succumb to suppression.
Change is now in motion.
No more fear.
We live in our brown skin
and we are here.

Growth

Don't expect to much from those close
Because despite their support of you
they may shy away in times most rough
They may remain in their car, when you need them to get out.
They may remain silent when you need them to shout.

Their reasons are not always meant to be hurtful,
they may fear the retaliation that may ensue.
Or they would rather not have the necessary confrontations
They may not call or reachout for conversation.
And I know they do not mean to affect my heart
But what they don't know is how their silence echoes in the chambers and how it triggers the truama in my brain that leads to defense mechanisms.
The reminder of years of prejudice, and microagressions that have caused me to shake in frustration.

I don't understand why I ever had such an expectation.
I know you have been complacent in the past.
I know you're parents are the ones who enforced an oppressive system.
Your parents always kept their distance from my visibility
Wanting to ensure the preservation of their american nation.

I don't know why I'm so hurt by your lack of action.
Because despite your degree, I know you can continue to live in safety
The lack of liberty not affecting you personally.
My life is luckily not your reality.
You are living in your #bestlife, in harmony.

I'm so tired. And of course I tried to explain
But when I read back the conversation in retrospect
I realize that you failed to provide me with validation.
I know you make mistakes, no ones perfect.
But I wish you would've said "I hear you"

I don't want to have to say this, but of course I will.
I need you to say to me, right now, "I hear you."
I need you to acknowledge your privilege.
I need you to commit to being an ally.
I need you to vote based on candidate priorities. Not on your party affiliation
I need you to say, "That comment is not appropriate".
I need you to walk and show up at demonstrations.
I need you to make efforts to help communicate and eliminate the overt and covert discrimination.
I need you.

If you only know MLK, and no other leader, then you are apart of the problem
Go read, learn and educate yourself on the hundreds of men and women, and their dedications to social justice.
If you only have one black friend, then you are contributing to the problem of tokenism that happens in education, and socialization because you haven't made efforts for diversification.
If you can't seem to bring yourself to say Black Lives Matter, then you need to truly think about if they are equal to you or if they aren't as important in your perception.

I Breathe.
I stop.
I digress.

I ask myself again, why I even had such an expectation of those close.
I will move on, and remember that in the end, I will always have my own lived experiences.
I will no longer expect your validation or expect you to truly listen to the uncomfortable truth that doesn't affect you.
But I will always have hope, because I know your intentions were not meant to hurt.
And I believe in the ability for one to change and grow.
So, I pray that'll come to fruition.
And that one day, you can learn how to be a true ally in dismantling oppression.
I hope you can see the truth and become the definition of growth.

Voices of Valley Women – #StrongerTogether