If You Would Only Listen

Caroline Center certified pharmacy technician candidate Keah M. just celebrated the mid-point in her 15-week education and career training program at Caroline Center – the eagerly awaited Halfway Hurrah, a longstanding Caroline Center tradition.

At 31 years of age, Keah is as committed as anyone you could ever meet to achieving a significant professional and personal goal –  a rewarding new career with opportunities for advancement and a better life. For Keah, and for many other Caroline Center trainees, life has not always been this promising. Felt this focused. Been this freeing.

One of the qualities we admire most in Caroline Center trainees is their relentless courage. We respect that women who seek a Caroline Center education and who choose to pursue it come from very different places in life’s unpredictable journey. We appreciate that each woman is uniquely herself.

And, we admire every woman for her steadfast courage – the kind of courage that has quite literally kept her in life and allowed her to reach the day when she boldly crosses a threshold – from what used to be to what she now knows is entirely possible and so deeply deserved.

For Keah, this courage found expression in an original poem she wrote, 30 Years a Slave – a poem so powerful that we were hoping she would agree to share it with readers in The Breakroom.

Sometimes, we don’t know how strong we are until we begin to listen. Not to what others are saying about us. Not to what others are saying to us. But, to ourselves.

So much good can happen. So much growth can happen. If we would only listen to ourselves.



30 Years a Slave

For 30 years, I was a slave

For 30 years, I was in captivity

For 30 years, I’ve worn these orange and pinstriped suits

My commissary was filled with scraps that were thrown at me

Scraps of judgement

Scraps of contempt

Scraps of disappointment

Scraps of expectations that I would never meet

My shackles were bound to my heart and mind

I was sentenced to a lifetime of hard time

My shackles were carved of others’ opinions and goals

Somewhere deep in my mind there was a hidden key

For 30 years I’ve been told who I wanted to be

And who I would be

Be a doctor, be a lawyer, be a teacher, they said

Be a cook, be a childcare provider, be a hairstylist

Dress like this, dress like that

Wear your hair this way

Don’t get tattoos; don’t get piercings

When you walk, don’t let your hips sway

Eat your veggies, eat your fruit

Minimize your carb intake

Because there ain’t nothing cute about being overweight

Go to college for years and years and years

Even if you hate it

It’s the only way you will survive

Talk like this, talk like that

Don’t use slang

Stop listening to rap

For 30 years, I was a slave

I was a prisoner

I was confined

To my mind


To mommy’s and daddy’s expectations

30 years I was a slave

But then I turned 31

And I realized

I’m the only one who has to live this life

I’m the only one suffering from these lies

That I tell myself

In order to meet the expectations of others

So, I broke free from my chains and my soul drainers

From my dream murderers

And my happiness takers

30 years I was a slave

But at 31 I got brave

I finally opened my ears to listen to myself

And myself chose my opinions

And myself chose my expectations

And myself chose to be happy with myself

To be happy with my decisions good or bad

To be happy with my life

And myself chose to be here

At Caroline Center

Learning medications, math, and prescriptions

Anatomy, physiology, and computer skills too

I’m learning how to walk, to talk, to be professional

For 30 years I was a slave

But at 31, I chose my own opinions

I chose my own feelings

I chose my own path

I chose my own dream

I chose my own destiny

And finally . . . I chose myself

30 Years a Slave was written by Caroline Center pharmacy technician candidate Keah M. and we are pleased to be able to publish it in The Breakroom with her permission. Many thanks to Keah for being a guest writer in this edition of The Breakroom.

This entry was posted in 30 Years a Slave, Baltimore job training programs for women, Baltimore's best non-profit, Caroline Center, Job Training, Journey, Pharmacy Technician Programs, Poems of Freedom, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s