I AM ILIFF

CONVOCATION CHARGE in poetic form- JUNE 2, 2016

¡No me pongan en lo oscuro,

A morir como un traidor;

Yo soy bueno, y como bueno,

moriré de cara al sol!

 

For those lacking the dexterity to sing in two cultures

ignorant of the language of angels

as spoken by the immortal revolutionist José Martí

allow me to translate his simple verses

 

Do not put me in the dark

to die as a traitor;

I am good, and because I am good,

I shall die with my face to the sun

 

I am Iliff

So do not put me in the dark

Where traitors to my teachings dwell

Traitors who plagiarize the world’s wretched

Appropriating without reciprocating

 

I am Iliff

So do not put me in the dark

Where traitors to my teachings dwell

Traitors selling the poor for a pair of sandals

Thinking they own the air in our lungs at a profit

 

I am Iliff

So do not put me in the dark

Where traitors to my teachings dwell

Traitors standing on the necks of mentors

Reaching new heights quicker than by standing on their shoulders

 

I am Iliff

So be a lantern illuminating stories of the dispossessed

Bringing to the light the plight of the transgressed

Revealing the persecution of the repressed

Shining a beam on the repression of the oppressed

 

I am Iliff

So I charge you class of sixteen to go forth

Not as Christian soldiers marching on to war

Not as crusaders crushing infidels for Christ

But as lambs before the slaughter

Gentle doves before the wolves

 

I am Iliff

Long after my classrooms are empty

Long after no stone is left on another

Long after your favorite professors are but food for the worms

Long after the utterances of Fanon, Freire, and Foucault are forgotten

 

My teachings will still reverberate through your being

My courses will still course through your veins

My convictions will still tug at your heart

My thoughts will still gnaw at your brain

 

I am Iliff

So I am good

And because I am good

I got a dog in the fight

Because I am black and red

Brown and white

Yellow and every shade in-between

 

I am Iliff

So I am good

And because I am good

I got skin in the game

Because I am queer and straight

I am asexual and bisexual

I am transgendered

 

I am Iliff

So I am good

And because I am good

I stand committing to solidarity with the hopeless

I stand rebelling against the neoliberalism that subjugates

I stand proclaiming the good news of liberation to the helpless

I stand subverting the social structures that segregates

 

I am Iliff

Where my fighting is my writing

Words as darts shooting through prejudices

My jabbing is my teaching

Phrases as barbs piercing the consciousness

My punching is my preaching

Sentences as digs unmasking the absurdness

 

I am Iliff

I stand disruptive yet decisive

Easier to die for one’s convictions

Harder to live under them

But if doing does lead to death

Then let me die with my face to the sun

 

I am Iliff

So do not put me in the dark as a traitor

And when those in the dark seduce you to join them

And when traitors wonder why you struggle for justice’s unwinnable odds

And when charlatans peddle revelation as revolution

And when a world gone mad questions your very sanity

You can respond in confidence and boldness

I am Iliff.

 

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