If you gave me the platform, then I might go off for an hour. Until I ran out of time, like my name’s Kalief Browder. Like my name is Freddie Gray and today is my last day. Like I’ll never come around again, like my name is Michael Brown and then you shot up the church and we burned down the city. And you burned down the churches and appointed a committee, while we pointed fingers at the cops and Justice negotiated a treaty. All good things have ends and your fate depends on what you do next. I expect better choices. Each of us the voices repping a better future. I’m repping my depression like a badge of honor. I’m asking questions and learning lessons from our forefathers. I’m on to you. And you’re on to me too. We’re all lying and buying time. I’m lying and making rhymes. Why read The New York Times when you can buy class like expensive wine. And though you can’t take the ghetto out of this fellow, you can dress that nigga up like he’s high yellow and he might pass. Because color does matter and it’s a sadder world when you pretend it doesn’t. When you say you don’t see it and we almost believe it. Until the cops come. Until we apply for that loan to buy our own home. Until we are alone with you in the parking garage and the S.A.T.’s prove to be cultural sabotage, if we even make it that far. And I hate that I’m at odds with these frauds that still talk like we are not people. Like I haven’t figured that “thug” is the new way they say nigger. Like I don’t dream bigger. Like I don’t have hopes that you cannot deny. Like one day I won’t fly to Paris and show my daughters around like I own that town. And I’m still down, though I may not always come around downtown Charm City. I’m still down though I can’t afford to get worn down by my dark city. Like my Dad, he’s an old man and I’m lucky he’s not a goner. They say if you have a father you might make it farther. You might make it off Payson Street. You might be the author of your own destiny. My story broke West for me. My story broke like the Watts Riots: Tragedy on the front page. But who reads anymore in this age? Who needs any more of this rage? I’m in love with the day I die like an affair you can’t shake. Like the time we stayed awake all night looking for proof. Searching for the truth.

by Reggie Wideman


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