Porsha Olayiwola – “Water” (IWPS 2014)


In 2010, six black teenagers
drowned in the Louisiana Red River. Researchers found that 70% of black people
do not know how to swim, that black kids are three times
more likely to drown. The question became,
why do blacks possess the fear of water? I’ve heard sharks followed slave ships
crossing the Atlantic Ocean, trailing black bodies thrown overboard. I heard, during slave time, white masters refused
to let blacks learned them to swim ’cause a swimming slave could get away. could swim to freedom, could figure out a way
to wade in the water. I heard that little black kids
ain’t nothing but gator bait, gator bait let you catch an alligator
so big, so vicious, it bite like racism. Black mammas be like,
“Keep your kids out the water, it ain’t safe, child.” I heard a Jim Crow north
and a Ku Klux south kept coloreds out of public swimming pools and off public water fountains. I heard they hose niggers down
with a firefighter water hose, like you hose down a rabies dog in the summertime heat,
in New Orleans. I heard, come hell or high water, they were going to watch niggers drown
in a hurricane down south. I heard they knew the levees
was going to give in and break, knew the waters was coming
to wash niggers away. Tell me, how do a nigger
keep their head above water if niggers can’t swim? Niggers can’t doggy paddle,
niggers can’t tread water. Niggers jump, but never jump in,
I sprint, you swim. Niggers can’t float, our bodies too dense. We don’t fuck with the rain
’cause our hair just got did. I heard yesterday in Detroit,
they cut the water off. I heard the water don’t run, I heard the faucets run dry. I heard kids are dehydrated. Niggers is thirsty, heard they’ve been gasping for air,
been drowning in oppression for what feels like forever,
ever since crossing the Atlantic. Been feeling lost at sea, been feeling like a fish out of water, like a body sinking in the deep end, like treading troubled waters and drowning. (cheers and applause)

100 thoughts on “Porsha Olayiwola – “Water” (IWPS 2014)

  1. This is incredibly powerful and beautiful. As a black woman this really hits a nerve. Lovely poem.

  2. honestly amazed i got to see her perform this poem last night in philly. she is truly incredible.

  3. Just experienced this poem live last night. So thankful to have found it on YouTube so I can experience it again and again. This is power. This is truth. I am moved by this.

  4. Im black and i don't like water, but hell ill swim in it if i have too.

  5. So I saw people asking for subtitles and turned on the YouTube ones and they're so inaccurate wow

  6. we have heavier bone densities too…..that's why we can jump high and run so fast. So if you're black and can swim well….your perfection lol

  7. im so grateful that this woman answered her calling. could u imagine all this talent and passion trapped at a call center job?

  8. Not only are the words powerful, but the deliver is impeccable!

  9. love this poems.. sharks dont eat people though, they dont like the taste

  10. I absolutely love all of her work. The perfect combination of viciousness and truth. #PoetryPerfection

  11. Odd thing is that even when I was a kid I wondered why I rarely saw black kids swimming in the public pool. I knew that it had to be more than a muscle density thing. I even asked a few of them why they didn't go swimming with us. I just knew that there had to be more to it… but what?

  12. And she is a first generation american so as a blk american i really appreciate her having such passion as to write something this profound

  13. She should be more angry about the local government in Detroit, and New Orleans, look up the politicians during the time period she was describing, greed, and power ruined those cities, nothing more. Alligators, and sharks do not discriminate, if they are hungry, they will eat anything. I don't understand the anger.

  14. 2010…… you are blaming white people, for the fact the black parents didn't teach their kids how to swim….. ok I'll add that to the list of ridiculous things I've heard. Also if you really want the "angry black women" stereotype to stop, you should probably stop perpetuating it. Just saying.

  15. Demented woman full of hate. God help African Americans as they sure can't help themselves

  16. Maybe she could just teach her kids to swim. Poems blaming everyone else for your problems do little to fix the real problems.

  17. you guys call that a poem??? well I guess in this age of triggered snowflakes and libtards it probably is… they have that nick for destroying things!
    that women is not a poet… shes a victim… well she like to think she is… again… every black person problems is whitey fault… fucking pathetic!!! get off your ass and teach your kid how to swim!!! its not the fault of a 400 years old asshole dead long ago that your kids cant swim… its your own!! the time where slave owners didnt teach them so they couldnt escape is over for 200 years, we are in 2018!!! stop living in the past and get off your lazy ass and take care of your kids instead of writting shit like the racist propaganda you just displayed in this shitty video!! Tomorrow morning when you get up, stop your habit of asking yourself how you could be the best victim out there and take control of your life, nobody own you except yourself 😉

  18. funny she admits out of her own mouth in the same "powerful poem" she don't go in the rain because her fake hair was just done or "did" should I say, but it's somehow still the white man's fault she can't swim🤦🏻‍♀️🤣

  19. how the fuck is it the fault of white people that black parents dont teach their children how to swim? maybe if black ppl like her didnt keep blaming the omnipotent white man for literally everything youd all be able to swim already. Seriously , white people arent omniscient gods. They arent in control of every little thing you do. You can teach your bloody kids how to swim , promise.

  20. “Jim Crow north and a Ku Kluck(klux) south” i got that the second time. She snapped!✊🏽

  21. The problem is caused by parents not signing their kids up for swim class like all the families with swimming kids do. But blaming others gets more applause I would guess.

  22. So loud = good poem?

    ARE you listening to the words or just enjoying the reet scream nonsense?

  23. ? Or blame your parents for not teaching you how to swim, because that's what it is. The resources are readily available.

  24. Maybe if this satanic puppet stopped eating fried chicken and had her own natural hair instead she'd have time to learn to swim and wouldn't be afraid to get her fake chemical hair wet instead of blaming other people for her inabilities. And if anyone thinks this dumb shit is powerful is also as dumb as a box of rocks. You're all stupid af lol

  25. What a load of bollocks. Historically it could have been an issue, but there is nothing stopping parents teaching their kids to swim in this day and age.

  26. Porsha! I’m so glad I found you. You were the confirmation I needed.

    Continue leaving us speechless with your words ❤️

  27. Man but my problem is i hate black people they treat each other the worst and we hate each other black men dont give a fuck about black women

  28. This reminds me of my mother and grandmother always saying to never get in more water than we could swallow.

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