Friday, December 10, 2010

This Week: Poetic Justice

Everybody wants a taste of the ‘hood
Everybody sings a long with the songs about doing no good
But if you laid there, if you stayed there and couldn’t escape
How many hooks would you repeat about the dirty money you make?
When I was younger the cool thing was to wear baggy pants
Have a limp in your step til you hop up in mom’s minivan
Wearing And1’s and Polo, maybe a Nike wristband
Cuz you’re a baller, shot caller, right? That’s how the words go?
What if you knew they’re only expectation was you go to jail or go pro?

What if you did move on and upward, toward a college degree?
And you excel and do well despite their suspect on your pedigree
You’re all black in all-white schools
In the back but you’re no fool
But the last time you sat front row
The professor slowed down when he spoke to you
And every time you speak up they’re surprised at your eloquence
And should you let loose in front of friends
You hear gasps and “Oh my gosh, say that again!”
Like a puppet. A showman. Just a little more well-spoken than those crazy ones in the YouTube video they’re forwardin’

Is it fair for you to anger or be frustrated at this scene?
After all you were in the library with Soulja Boy on your laptop screen
And then your ringtone went off and Kanye crooned “ghetto university”
And that’s where you grew up, in the School of Hard Knocks
Rocks in palms on your block and you did your best to get out without a jump or gunshot
But, who said they needed saving? Who said they needed help?
Plenty are satisfied and don’t fold despite the hand that they’ve been dealt
When “experts” tell them it’s too much for them to bear
That someone must step in and show “the underprivileged” we care
We have what they don’t. We can succeed where they won’t.
They is not black, they is anyone who has ever been held back
And told that they were equal
They is anyone who was put up in a coop, or sat out on a stoop
‘Cause they were not welcome in buildings, though they paid taxes, too.
They is not Muslim, they is anyone who has ever been held back
When they just tried to move forward. But somehow every time they’re chosen from a random assortment
And then holed up in a room. Hold up. You’ll be released soon.
They is not Jew, they is anyone who was imprisoned in a place they were told would have enough room
But because of their looks, because they looked like they could be crooks
Even though they did no crime except to protest what sat on the books
Persecuted for money, of which they had none, and because they were broke the only choice for their first son
Was be cut up and dragged out, before he could witness the warm sun
There’s not enough room on this mattress for plus one
Not enough air in the casket you pay rent for every month
But somehow every Thanksgiving you fit the whole family in
Grateful at least for a meal and a place to block out the wind

So take back your advice and your Superman complex
That attitude is obtuse your spirit is convex
You’re thinking because you were schooled, because you read about it in school
That you know the rules and the needs and the way to save me from this cruel world
You school boy and school girl
you have attended university but still have no concept of adversity
No respect for diversity.  And you studied facts but you haven’t learned me
You can’t come in with your theories and stethoscope trying to cure
things of which you’re unsure

So be humble and open your eyes to the reason that I’m hurt, but don’t cry
I don’t have luxury to sit by. There are mouths to feed, clothes to dry
And I take the 6 bus to the Red line then walk a few blocks to the bread line
And get back in an hour so that I can pick my daughter up on time

I don’t lay hands except for prayer, so don’t assume I’ll fight back when you arrive
Come with an open mind. Although you’re degree says you’re qualified
You never lived and haven’t seen,
so step back before you step in to save me from misery
This isn’t a study…but you can learn a lot in this ghetto university.



  1. Heart-felt..a really skilled poet. Thank you.

  2. Wow this poem just speaks words often unspoken. It is crazy how I/we are placed in the middle of this scenario. We have the ghetto university/community on one side and the experts at the common university/experts on the other side. This is one reason I feel like it is our job to awaken the leaders teaching at the ghetto university so there is more crossover, and less "saving." I believe that if we have faith in our own abilities we will be able to reverse a lot of the ills we suffer from on a day-to-day basis. Very good work Celeste... I sure wish I would have made it to see you do your spoken word...:)

  3. Thank you! and, thank you both for reading!

  4. Finally got to read it..

    ..and it's awesome!



“Ultimately, happiness rests on how you establish a solid sense of self or being. Happiness does not lie in outward appearances nor in vanity. It is a matter of what you feel inside; it is a deep resonance in your life. To be filled each day with a rewarding sense of exhilaration and purpose, a sense of tasks accomplished and deep fulfillment- people who feel this way are happy. Those who have this sense of satisfaction even if they are extremely busy are much happier than those who have time on their hands but feel empty inside.” – Daisku Ikeda