My son Noah built New/Ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
As we sailed on a soft summer day

from Nikki Giovanni – Ego-Tripping (there may be a reason) on Rap Genius

Meaning

The speaker references the Genesis flood narrative which features Noah and his ark.

These direct connections to biblical personalities symbolize the divine mission of Africa and black people’s identity as descendents (motehrs, fathers, sons, daughters) of Africa.

The emphasis on New/Ark is a nod to Newark, NJ. Newark has significance in several ways.

After the 1967 Newark Riots, as industry fled the city, so did the white middle class, leaving behind a poor population. During this same time, the population of many suburban communities in northern New Jersey expanded rapidly.

In addition, Newark is the Amiri Baraka’s birthplace. Giovonni admired Baraka greatly for his leadership during the Black Arts Movement in which he established the Black Arts Repertory Theatre, which he founded in Harlem in 1958 as well as black community theater in Newark, New Jersey in 1967.

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