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News and updates from around the Ujima Ecosystem.

April Showers Edition: (Qahr)قهر , by Shannon Cumberbatch


The title "Qahr", suggested by Njeri Wright, perfectly encapsulates the depth, intensity and duration of emotions and experiences that no English word can capture. This poem challenges those who condemn/silence support for Palestinians to imagine themselves in the same horrific conditions of genocide and occupation, as the world shows the same callousness and cowardice they are presently demonstrating. This piece is a reminder that tomorrow we can, and likely will, experience any injustice against others that we observe and ignore today; it's a call to action to end our complicity, and courageously work toward our collective liberation.

Listen to Shannon read the poem here:



i hope that if one day 

the rubble from what was once your sanctuary 

becomes your sky 

and your ground the mass graves of generations who died 

from days and decades of genocide 

trapped in a purgatory between two realms 

hoping for peace in the after-life 

after living through hell 

i hope that if one day the light from explosions in the sky 

seep through the cracks of concrete like sunshine 

while suffocating smoke swallows fresh air 

threatening to choke you as you wail in despair 

hoping someone will hear you 

that someone is there 

that someone who sees your suffering 

will care 

before it's too late 

before you prepare for your final sunset 

while the weight of the wreckage rests on your chest 

threatening to crush you and take your last breath 

hoping you’ll be found and liberated, even if in death 

and that the souls of those who chose complicity to protect 

their comforts live in eternal unrest 

i hope that if one day as you lie awake, 

crushed in a tiny space that may soon become your tomb 

where the booms from bombs replace the songs of birds, 

that you can’t still hear the silence of cowards across the world 

claiming calls for your safety and solidarity cost too much 

are too controversial 

take too much time 

are an affront to their funders and they don't want to lose a dime 

i hope that if this moment arrives, 

that the masses possess the conscience and courage you lack today 

that they consider the cost of your life and their souls too much to pay 

i hope they don't seek solace in silence 

and make you stream the screams 

of those carrying limbs and limp corpses killed in colonial violence only to believe your oppressors lies when they deny it 

i hope they don't try to balance both sides of genocide 

and condemn your resistance 

while debating whether your children count as innocent lives and have the right to existence 

i hope that when the dust from mass death settles 

when truth defeats the propaganda machine 

and in hindsight when everyone agrees that this was ethnic cleansing a preventable genocide 

as we watched a nation state annihilate entire bloodlines live that you remember where you stood today, 

and what you did 

that your words of condemnation, equivocation and commitment to both sides while only one side is occupied and silenced while suffering genocide 

are memorialized 

i hope you remember 

because we, and history, will never forget 

this is the legacy you were pressed to protect


“There is no English equivalent to the Arabic word qahr قهر. The dictionary says ‘anger’ but it’s not. It is when you take anger, place it on a low fire, add injustice, oppression, racism, dehumanization to it, and leave it to cook slowly for a century,”And then you try to say it but no one hears you. So it sits in your heart. And settles in your cells. And it becomes your genetic imprint. And then moves through generations. And one day, you find yourself unable to breathe. It washes over you and demands to break out of you. You weep. And the cycle repeats.” - Khadijah Muhaisen Dajani


Shannon Cumberbatch (she/her) is a recovering public defense attorney, former non-profit managing director and educator who advocated against injustice in the courtroom and workplace. Now, as the founder of Uproot.ed, Shannon offers coaching, consulting and educational curriculum to individuals and institutions committed to uprooting oppression through education and action. Shannon also curates international cultural immersion experiences, and provides restorative support for sufferers and survivors of the non-profit industrial complex.

Poetic expression is one of Shannon's most soothing sources of catharsis, sharpest tools of resistance, and most accessible container to hold emotions too heavy and messy for a simple paragraph; it's always been her most intuitive outlet to illustrate unspeakable injustice. Shannon's poetry and prose has been published in the Harvard Black Letter Law Journal, the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Justice at St. John's University School of Law, and the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy.


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