Cherie Jacobs

I DESERVE TO LIVE AND NOT JUST SURVIVE, 2019

Acrylic on canvas

9” x 12” (22.9x 30.5 cm)


I Deserve to Live and Not Just Survive

I DESERVE TO LIVE AND NOT JUST SURVIVE

I DESERVE TO LIVE AND NOT DIE

I WAS BORN TO DO MUCH MORE THAN STAY BLACK AND DIE

I WAS CREATED FOR MUCH MORE THAN TO PAY TAXES AND DIE

I deserve to live

I deserve to live

I deserve to live

To live and not die

for struggle cannot last always.

Hell is not forevermore.

I come to a re-memory

or rather a

remembrance

that I can transmute

my own pain and sorrow.

I am my own alchemist.

I didn’t beat trauma’s ass 

to not deserve or enjoy 

this current period

this current moment.

I deserve and I am worthy

of all things

even when I feel

tender or broken.

I am still both

soft and strong.

I am still worthy

I deserve to live and not

just survive

even as I 

repair and regenerate

I deserve it all:

The good food

good friendships

good partnerships

good sex

good pleasures

good health

good money

good love

good juju

good spirituality

To be at ease

To be comfortable

In my space and in my spirit.

I am an alchemist.

I have the ability

to change that which

that was meant

originally for bad

To gOOd.

I deserve to live and not die

not on account of

where I have been

through or where 

I am headed

but because of my

inherent worth and goodness

and because I said so and I believe it

So it is.

A remembrance to live again

And live fully.

It is okay to enjoy yourself.

Savor the moment.

The cover comes off

Façade released once she steps in

Away from the common eye

Tendencies and mannerisms shift

Love is still there or so I think

It’s hidden in the underbelly of opposing commentary and negativity

To be the seed of one        often changing like a chameleon.


Where I’m from

Where I’m from

Mothers. Womb Soundview.

Queens. Albany to Queens.

A nomad is what I am indeed.

I am from early morning of prayer. Hot roast bake and pumpkin. I am

the descendant of forced farmers across land and the many rivers.

I am from early morning of prayer. Hot roast bake and pumpkin. I am

the descendant of forced farmers across land and the many rivers.

I am from blocks of concrete. Liquor stores

Chinese food and bodegas

line the corners.

The many memorials of the dead etched into my memory.

We pour libations to remember.

I’m from those who left

a country

land mine

rabbit farm

 sugar cane fields

and oils for opportunity.

I am from rice fields and sugar water.

Hard work and toiling on end.

Hope for a better tomorrow

That the future would bear sweeter fruit than

the day’s bitterness.

Survivor’s on edge.

Hands and feet both

by plane and by car.

I am from resilience and persistence.

A will to live fully and

not just survive but rather thrive.

I am from resilience and persistence.

A will to live fully and

not just survive but rather thrive.

I am from promises, endless blessings, prayer on knees.

Rosaries. Temple. A home. A body.

A community. Both long and wide

vaster than meets the eye.


“I DESERVE TO LIVE AND NOT JUST SURVIVE” is a piece from Reclaiming Your Power. In this piece I try to wrestle with the concept of what having a quality of life means to me as a Black woman. My predecessors tell me the key to life is just having stability in work and with having a family. I continuously attempt to challenge these notions. Can this concept of quality stretch far beyond work-life balance? Can’t I live for more than just living up to my family name and legacy? There must be more to this life I consistently think, inspiring my writing this.Where I’m from is a piece exploring the impact of lineage from a point of bicultural competence. It seeks to explore how understanding of one’s origins and roots thereof impact the development of oneself. When writing this I thought about how when meeting new people we often ask: “Where are you from?” Often people will answer a certain phrase pertaining to what they refer to as their home as a geological marker. This could the place they were raised in which they call their childhood home. Whereas others might answer detailing their family’s original point of origin. As a Black woman with Caribbean indigenous and Southern roots, I have learned to consider the point of origin or home, as much more than my original place of knowing but rather to expand it to include the original lands my family were brought to as a result of slavery and those who lived on certain lands before intentionally choosing to migrate in the hopes of a better life.


Cherie Jacobs(she/her/hers) is a professional writer and editor from Bronx, NY. She is a queer Black woman of Trinidadian and Southern descent. Having earned her Bachelor of Arts in English (University at Buffalo ‘18) and her Master of Arts in English (University at Buffalo 2020) she has been writing and creating for years, her earlier works being medical stories. Cherie has written poems and prose centering on the intersections of black women and aspects of their lives that impact their total development of self such mental health, sexuality, trauma, and the concept of home as more than just a geographical marker. For her masters thesis she wrote a chapbook titled “Reclaiming Your Power”, a text exploring trauma, how it manifests, and how one works to rebuild in the aftermath. Stay tuned for the published version of chapbook Reclaiming Your Power and “The LOVE Book”, writings on self love. See more of her writing here.

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