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A Brother's Plea


A Brother’s Plea

I am sitting here in this cell, afraid and alone,
Can't play my music or talk on my cell phone
I wonder how I got here, my personhood assaulted
Smart in school, now my possibilities halted
My life will never be the same
In some ways it is over because of this prison game
I cry to myself so the fellas won’t hear
Too many years ahead of me in this place without care
My life has not been easy, no crystal stair
When all I ever wanted was a chance to be someone to live anywhere
It was the accident of birth they say
I had no control over my DNA
My mother tried hard and worked every day
My dad paid the bills and with her he stayed
My nightmare happened in school you see
I had a young blond teacher who was afraid of me
I studied hard and turned in my work
But she was afraid of me and when I moved, she jerked
My friends told me to be careful in high school
The cops were always ready and waiting to load you in that van pool
Off to juvey or the business man's prison cell
To a world that was worse than our Northside hell
Being poor isn't a crime
Being a black kid shouldn’t mean jail time
But here I sit, just seventeen years old
In this cell so bitter, so cold
Wore the uniform of the streets to defy their image
Knowing nothing I do would give me a living and a wage
One day, just tired of it all
My friends and I smoked a joint in the bathroom stall
We were arrested and charged as drug lords
Man we thought we were ok in our segregated ward
It was my first offense and first time in court
Only my mother and father there for my support
The lawyer, some young dude in a suit, had never met me
His hands full of folders, not enough time he said, just cop a plea
My life ended at that very moment for coping meant I was never free
Never over paying my debt to society.
One year for every joint they gave
Told me it was for my own good since the law I disobeyed
Never mind my white friend who bought the weed
He had a rich father who fixed his wrongful deed
I am one in three in this War on Drugs
Man, would I give anything for my mother’s hugs
Sitting in this cell, alone and wishing I was free
But knowing even then, no school or job will ever consider me
Dudes here never held a gun or wielded a knife
But because they had a drug problem, are locked away for life
The murderer down the block is already free
His sentence not part of the mandatory three
What am I to hope when it is worse than Jim Crow?
Seems all they want is for us to die, never grow
Worse now then when we marched for the vote
They still hate us and our existence they revoke
Where can we go in this land of the free?
When everywhere I look, they are still scared of me?

I dedicate this to all the sons of son who are perishing in the nation's privatized prisons and juvenile detention centers.  I dedicate this to them, most non-violent first time offenders, younger than my son in college today.  I dedicate this to them there all alone, far away from their cities, in a rural cell now their home.  I dedicate this to them to be their voice for Harry Belafonte said tonight that the artist is the gatekeeper of truth. I am speaking your truth, young brothers, we are hearing you and know you have been waiting for us to take up your cause and change the system.  I dedicate this to you.

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