Pink Poetry Nation’s Cri de Coeur
© Jerome DeVonni Wilson
They say that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please
all of the people all of the time. On occasion, we wish that we could; however, we can’t ignore
the wisdom of this old aphorism.
But imagine the joy!
The joy of having every word that comes out of your mouth accepted by everyone and
deemed a ground for rejoicing. Every deed done devoid of criticism, supported and embraced by
the approval of all people.
Imagine, because how else would such a colossal feat be accomplished? Better yet,
imagine the grave stress of the fool who spreads himself thin, wears herself ragged and depleted
by attempting to reach the unobtainable.
In reaching goals, we must always be realistic. Setting goals has nothing to do with
setting yourself up for failure and everything to do with setting your ambitions in stone —
however monolithic — and then standing on them until you’ve reached that particular milestone.
And though this point is celebratory, it isn’t cause for contentment. There is no
complacence for the ambitious, so you strap up your boots and strive on for your capstone.
I guess it would be akin to having a short-term goal, a long-term goal, and that term in
between. This doesn’t mean that you’re moving in baby steps, it just means that you are moving.
Enter Pink Poetry Nation, a movement that I conceptualized while brainstorming while in
both solitude and complete darkness. It’s important that you depict me in that state because they
say that a man is really who he is when he’s alone. That’s the real him.
They also say that what a person does in the dark will eventually come to light. Well, that
night I paced back and forth in my cell with short, guided steps. I was taught by the OGs that to
stand still was to die. Yeah…the OGs taught me that.
It was September 2011 and I’d been painfully stagnated for nearly nine years. Identifying
my problem was no problem — it was part economical, part political, and wholly disheartening.
I was at a crux in my life where I didn’t have the means to make things happen for myself or
have any favor from anyone who did.
How do you measure worth? Self-worth? I only ask because though I had nothing, I
couldn’t accept the notion that I was worthless. Like nah…that can’t be right. So added to the
central problem was the fact that I needed to validate that I was still useful. I continued to pace
the cell and I thought of a letter my mother once wrote me — maybe you’ve seen it? She told me
that I had everything that I needed in my mind.
I picked up my pace…
Soon I began to enter various ideas into the browser of my mental search engine. I knew
that the only tools I had at my disposal were those I was equipped with at birth. No more, and
thankfully, no less.
Experience taught me that expecting anything from outside of the sphere of my mind,
body, and soul could only enslave me to someone’s hollow promises. I had to find my own way.
Always one to feel that when dealing with people, it was cool to use each other as long as we
didn’t misuse each other, I surmised that the path to helping myself should encompass helping
But who needed help as badly as I did? I thought of veterans, the disabled, and then the
colorful ribbons emblematic of worthy causes. There was yellow, and…pink! Right.
My grandmother had recently beaten the brakes off of the Pink Monster, so there was a
connection and high level of concern, but what could lil’ ol’ me contribute to the cause?
All I had was intellectual property in the form of previously recorded music and various
types of writings. My music was being held hostage, so in essence, I only had my writings and
the ability to write more.
I have a passion for writing sweet pieces and I truly love women, so to pen poems that
would help women, and ultimately myself, would be a match made in Heaven. Just the thought
of an eleemosynary endeavor gave me an immediate and much needed boost in morale!
Once I contacted the Susan G. Komen Foundation and told them of my vision, they sent
me a big package of info about the disease. I devoured it and started gathering more info from
other reliable sources.
I was thirty-nine years young and didn’t know that men also got breast cancer. This is
also how I learned about the disparities in the mortality rate of Black women compared to those
of white women since the medical breakthroughs of the 1990s.
At this point, Pink Poetry had become nothing less than my cathexis. At the end of the
book, I included an open letter to the media about this upsetting disparity and strove to see that
the letter is circulated throughout the masses as a call for action.
I had a few people ask me if I realized, or was concerned by the fact that by a lot of the
stats and info being geared toward Black women, I might alienate other readers, thus decreasing
my audience. Now mind you, 50% of the proceeds from Pink Poetry are going to the SGK
By people raising this question, I knew that, in their opinion — which they’re entitled to
— they were saying that I’d probably have more success, or at least favor, without illuminating
the data available for the sisters. My sisters.
Though I appreciate the concern, please allow me to clear the air for the philodoxes.
Firstly, for me, success with this endeavor isn’t measured by how it does commercially, though
there is a nexus. This movement is for outreach and is a call for action.
Like, don’t get it twisted, when I discovered the lopsided mortality rate I was awash with
anger and I need not speak about it esoterically. My “Open Letter To The Media” contains some
ugly truths that are a cri de coeur (cry of the heart) directed to the conscience of society — the
same society that allows the inequality. This being said by someone languishing in a cell; the
result of more of society’s ugly truths and inequality.
Michelle Alexander put the spotlight on mass incarceration with her book The New Jim
Crow, and the Prison Industrial Complex became a national conversation. Though mass
incarceration affects more than Blacks, it affects us disproportionately. Those of us who have
suffered this injustice can only bear respect and adoration for Alexander, whose exposé has
helped usher in change in the way the nation scrutinizes the ill-legal system.
I want you to ask yourself, who would’ve wanted her to withhold the info embodied in
Jim Crow? Then ask the bigger question: Why?
We can probably stand on common ground in agreeing that no one maimed by the new
Jim Crowism would be indifferent to its publication. In that same light, the class of women on
the dark side of the breast cancer mortality rate disparity won’t be hunting my head! (Although
they may want to give me a hug.)
I’m sure that there are ladies of all shades who appreciate me supporting the cause;
likewise, the appreciation is reciprocated by me for those who partake in the Pink Poetry Nation
One thing is for certain; if people are talking about Pink Poetry Nation or its mission to
the media, I’ve evoked the three D’s: Dialogue, Discussion, and Debate. In order to employ any
of the three, there had to first be awareness. I’ll accept that as an indication that I have reached a
However, arriving at my capstone will prove to be both an abstruse and anfractuous
journey. Since 1993, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation has raised over “half a billion
dollars for lifesaving research” according to their website; 88% goes to breast cancer research
and 3% to awareness programs. Since 1982, The Susan G Komen organization has invested “2.6
billion in groundbreaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more
than 30 countries.” According to their website 83¢ of every donated dollar goes directly to battle
So it seems as if we have been doing a great job at funding research and awareness, yet to
discover a medical breakthrough through the efforts of all people, then disseminate the info to
them so that they are aware of the advancements, but have the fruits of that collective labor
apportioned in a way to where there’s an obvious inequality in the survival rate of a particular
category of people…
Either we still have a long way to go, or our goal of having equal access to these
breakthroughs so that Black women fighting the disease can live life on par with their nonHispanic counterparts is an unrealistic goal.
(Nah! But I digress.)
Shout out to the ladies of the Sisters Network, INC in Houston whose annual 5K
walk/run is appropriately called the “Stop the Silence” National African-American Breast Cancer
walk. The night that I was alone, in the dark, pacing my cell, I’m sure I walked that 3.1 miles.
Today, I am still that man. A man who is who he says he is, and who says what he feels
because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
…and that’s on everythang
Cri de Coeur
Pink Poetry Nation’s Cri de Coeur