Roselyn Berry, Contributor to Moving, for You: A Tribute to Empathy

The following passages are excerpted from Revolutionary Words

BAGS, Part I Finding the Humanness in Her

(Dedicated to my mother: Darleen Rebecca Fernandez. RIP)

It takes a long time for young girls to view their mothers as human. We grow up watching them conquer the world like superwomen; all the while, gaining unrealistic ideas of what we have to live up to. Trying to walk in mommy’s shoes, our spirits overwhelmed with the notion that we could never fill them… until that morning we wake up and realize that our mothers, much like us, are not perfect.

Every woman can pin point that day, that moment, that incident that defined her newfound relationship with her mom. The day that we began to despise instead of emulate them; that day that we began to look down upon them, wish they were better, smarter, richer, prettier, more ambitious, skinnier, braver, more independent… and we hold onto that resentment. It walks with us, breeds life inside of us and becomes the space that harbors dislike for other women who look and act just like us and who walk the same walk as us. It becomes the place we harbor self-hate. We begin to blame our mothers for the reasons we don’t have more, hurt less or know how to love better. Somewhere down the line, somewhere in the mainstream of our adulthood, where self-acceptance meets forgiveness, we begin to look into the mirror and see them. Many made mistakes; many did what they could at the time with what they had; many were children raising children; some were angry, not at us, but at the world for not taking more responsibility for our children and placing more value on our lives, equipping mothers with the necessities of what it takes to not have to work three jobs and depend ONLY on the grace of God to raise us. Some of us will never reach this knowing until we too become mothers, when we can finally look our mothers in the eyes and say, “I know what you were going through…” Some of us will never get there because somewhere deep down we’re still carrying the burden of all that pain, still feeding off of the idea that we are worth less than the mistakes that our mothers made. Only when we allow ourselves to let down our guard and heal can we begin to peer into their eyes and see ourselves in them. Only when we begin to base our perception of them less on their mistakes and more on the knowledge of how FUCKING hard it is to be a woman in this world, will we accept them as human. Our mothers deserve that much… they deserve to be accepted, acknowledged, loved, adored because they carried us; not only in their wombs but through life. Our mothers are the backbone of society. They nurture life and prolong existence. Where would we be without them?

Mommy, I dedicate this poem to you. You will forever be a superwoman in my eyes…


Bags, Part II Letters to My Mother

Since when did we become mothers to our mothers?

A vicious cycle of dependency

Passed on by the hands of another

Forced to carry the burden of centuries of






Taught that houses have walls for a reason

What happens at home stays at home!

To forsake that vow would have been treason

And so we carry it with us

Like ripped shopping bags

Handles no longer intact

Leaving small pieces of ourselves wherever we land

Whoever we touch can smell the scent of our sweaty hands

Wrinkled and tired from carrying all of these


Full of the faint remembrance of childhood

Smells like loneliness…

They were much older than me

Smells like abandonment…

Why doesn’t anyone want me?!

Smells like broken promises…

He’ll come back!

Smells like denial…

Stop lying! Don’t you dare say that!

Smells like regret…

Sex, drugs, and alcohol

Smells like giving up…

Blood stained t-shirts, empty pill bottles, and suicide calls

Bags spill over you know…

When they get too full

Because no matter how tattered they get,

We still keep holding on

And we pass those things on

To our daughters

It plays out in the ways we treat our womaness

Relationships built on hurt

And so we resort to loving the men

Who do the same to us as our fathers did to them

Love them from the depths of our soul

Because we’ve been taught that we need a man to be whole

That we must keep holding on

Clutching tight to whoever we are privileged enough to have love us

Somewhere in the midst of trying to bury

That very rigid way of thinking

We gave up on the desire to be adored

Somewhere down the line

Independence turned into denial

Convincing ourselves that it’s not okay to need






We forget about our worth

We become the dirt locked deep in the crevices of our hands

Skin thin

From carrying all of those bags



The woman that birthed us from her womb,

Cradled us in her bosom,

Told us we were beautiful and

Challenged us to dream

Became the woman we despised

Vowed to never emulate

And we blame them

For our trust issues

For not believing us when they should have

For choosing men over their children

For doing drugs

Being sluts

Being dependent on love

For giving up

Being absent

Working too much

Expecting too much

Hurting us

Deserting us

Dear Mommy, I needed you to tell me about your struggle I needed you to let me see your pain To be vulnerable so that I could know it was ok I needed you to share your story with me I needed you to tell me that it hurt like hell when he left And that it was hard to have to work three jobs to make up for where he lacked I needed you to tell me there were times that you wanted him back I needed you to tell me that my vagina was beautiful And that sex wasn’t dirty I needed you to protect me and stand up for me

But truth be told

Our mothers did the best that they could

At the time

With what little they had

They too are broken

They too are tired

Their hands are swollen from the bags they’ve carried since

They were little girls

So then how do we find ways to honor them?

With all of the resentment that we harbor

How do we let go of mistakes made despite us

To become better daughters

Dear Mommy, your whole life you’ve been fighting Mother since the age of 20 The only living you’ve known was surviving You raised an entire family on your own When he left you alone and mommy, I’m amazed That even through all the pain You were still able to put clothes on our backs and food on the table Not enough to eat You went hungry for us Cried nights because three jobs STILL weren’t enough! And no matter how many mistakes we made you forgot and forgave And never threw us away And so this is what it means to me To obtain my dreams So that I can one day give back At least a tiny bit of what you’ve given to me So in my adulthood I’ve carried these bags proudly Because though they’re heavy They’re what you’ve passed down to me I’ll do the work and tell the stories To lighten the load So that my daughters Won’t have to carry them alone Only God knows how many days are left Until death steals your breath So I’ve devoted the rest of mine To letting go and moving on So that I can cherish the time that we have left

I love you mommy.

Roselyn Berry is the author of Revolutionary Words, which explores both the resilience and oppression of marginalized communities in the United States, as well as the fight for liberation of all Black, Brown, and poor people internationally, adapted into spoken word poetry. (This excerpt is from Kindle Location 413 - 515, Kindle Edition.) 



Calligraphy by Amorosa5