Born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey, but known to friends and family as just ‘Zake,’ Shange personified Black Girl Magic, even before the term was born. She was regal. When you were in her presence, not only did she make you feel like you were on the top of the world, but you knew you were in the presence of literary royalty. Many on Twitter have been sharing their thoughts about Shange, but no one’s stands out more than poet Bassey Ikpi’s tweets:
To our extended family and friends, it is with sorrow that we inform you that our loved one, Ntozake Shange, passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early morning of October 27, 2018. Memorial information / details will follow at a later date.— Ntozake Shange (@NtozakeShange1) October 27, 2018
The family of Ntozake Shange
So much of what I wanted to do with my writing and my performance was in "for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf' and Sassafras, Cyprus & Indigo. It's corny to say but she did teach us how to sing a Black girl's song. She really did.— bassey ikpi (@Basseyworld) October 27, 2018
When I first started performing my poetry, I used to recite "a nite with beau willie brown" too; I'd just slip it in there like it was mine because it was mine. It's how I paid homage to this woman who changed everything.— bassey ikpi (@Basseyworld) October 27, 2018
And this idea of a choreopoem. My God.— bassey ikpi (@Basseyworld) October 27, 2018
As a dancer and a writer and a Black girl in a Black body with Black dreams and Black fears and Black hopes and no idea how to shape the world or the words…
she did that.
She was the blueprint.
She was the roadmap.
She was the light.
They say, "don't meet your heroes" but I met mine and she was funny and kind and gracious and regal and regular and wonderful.— bassey ikpi (@Basseyworld) October 27, 2018
My heart hurts.
To all of the colored girls out there…in the words of Ntozake Shange, “Keep writing.” RIP Ntozake. You will be missed.
The best way to honor her, for me, is to do what she told me to do: "keep writing, Bassey…"— bassey ikpi (@Basseyworld) October 27, 2018
So I'm going to go do that.
Ntozake Shange told me to and who am I to argue with an ancestor?