Turn the Day Into the Night: The Story Behind the Song

To construct the lyrics for the Hip Hop song, “Turn the Day Into the Night,” I combined stories from my life and the lives of four friends I grew up with. This song is a portrayal of the life we, and many others faced and continue to face today while growing up indigent in gentrifying cities. For many of us then, as it is for many of us today, the best outcome that most of us had and have to look forward to was and is prison and death. This is a phenomenon that needs to come to light in the public’s eye and be faced head on.

(Lyrics for the song are at the end of this post)

Sociologists and social scientists have identified and established with empirical evidence that our society in the United States is stratified. This stratification is socioeconomic in nature, which means that it is not purely social in nature. In accordance with Social Conflict Theory, pioneered by people such as Karl Marx and W.E.B. Du Bois, this stratification manifests a conflict between the classes as they compete for resources. The media would have us believe what Chimamanda Adichie classified as a “single story,” in her appearance on Ted Talk in July of  2009; whereby the public is presented as Adichie  says; “[s]how a people as one thing, as only one thing over, and over again, and that is what they become” (Adichie 09:29). She later later notes; “[t]he single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but they are incomplete,” that there is in fact much more than what is presented by the media (Adichie 13:15).  The single story that has been represented of young Black men in America is that we are to be feared, that we are drug dealers, and we are to blame for our own situations. Well, from the social conflict perspective this is what is called “Blaming the Victim” and has provided the justification for denying responsibility for the problems of stratification; and in other words it is “Cognitive Dissonance,” and has been the basis for a blatant reprisal against an entire class of people.

The “White Flight” that began in American cities in the 1950’s and 60’s, when the migration of White Americans left urban areas decadent as the suburbs began to flourish. This occurred over the same time period as the great migration of Black Americans from the south and rural areas into northern cities. Resources and jobs disappeared, and the civil Rights Movement was just beginning to pick up in full swing so, at the time Black Americans were still being highly and openly discriminated against; in the social, political, educational, and economic spheres of American society. This was one of the causes of the stratification that we see today. Then in the late 80’s and early 90’s another  migration began to occur as wealthy Americans, mostly White, began to return to the cities. As this happened, the United States began to experience Gentrification as property was purchased, and driving up the property values less-wealthy Americans, usually minorities, could not afford to stay in the areas where this took place any more.

In both situations the phenomenon  of a battle for resources emerged as is suggested by classic social conflict theory. In a capitalist system where people are compelled to compete and oppress one another, this is not surprising.  According to Social-Psychological Theory, it is precisely this competition, which both creates and sustains the stereotypes that compound the issue of Blaming the Victim. And when the available resources in an area are based on the taxes collected in that area, it effect schools and school programs, after school programs, employment services, social health resources, etc.  Furthermore, all these resources suffer when the people who live in these communities are isolated economically as a result of capitalist competition.

Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World, v. 1.0.2,  Chapter 9.2 Explaining Deviance by Steven E. Barkan

Sociologists and social scientists have identified the the capitalist competition, the stereotypes with their subsequent effects that result from this competition, and the lack of resources facing minority communities as the reality of this stratification in the United States. They also suggest that the lack of resources, training and job opportunities in these communities is what leads the inhabitants of these communities to turn to what has been classified as crime—in America—as a means to survive. The crimes in question are primarily drug related in nature; drug dealing and drug using, but also robbery and assault. Drug usage has been identified to be a coping mechanism and drug dealing is dubiously, a lucrative enterprise, but not for the average person on the street dime bagging it to get by. Because of the legislation regarding drugs and society’s perception of this being the evil (Blaming the Victim), it is the symptom and not the cause which has been addressed, and is why there is so much more police in these communities. This image, the image of a young Black thug street dealing and either being harassed or arrested, has been the most prevalent image of Black people in the media, which unfortunately also includes Hip Hop—the so called Black medium—since the mid-1980’s, and has only served to indoctrinate our youth into the path of this single story and perpetuate the problem. The further ramifications are what have been termed as Racial Profiling, wherein specific groups are targeted by the police as being suspicious and often times have their constitutional rights infringed in the process of conferring guilt upon them. Thus, all of the circumstance combined has led these communities to experience a phenomenon that has been titled the “Pipeline to Prison,” which describes the tendency for youth to be funneled through school system into prisons.

Penitentiaries (prisons) are supposed to serve three primary functions; (1) the isolation of those society classifies as criminals from society, (2) the punishment of those who violate the laws, (3) a means by which the “guilty” are to repay their debt to society. However, according to the “Custodial and Non-Custodial Measures: Alternatives to Incarceration” report published in 2006, by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “prisons not only rarely rehabilitate, but they also tend to further criminalise individuals, leading to re-offending and a cycle of release and imprisonment” (pg. 1). This is the result of a two parts of the social-psychological theory of socialization whereby, the individual is removed from the social pressures, which would naturally act to rectify such behavior and simultaneously insert that individual into an environment, which encourages further criminal behavior.

Compounding these circumstances is the privatization of the Unites States’ penitentiary system. This is a vital concern because human beings, and in this case criminals are being turned into commodities. Millions of dollars have been spent by corporations on lobbying to ensure that the laws are legislated in such a manner that people are both going to and staying in prison; to earn profit, not for rehabilitation and reparation. This situation only serves to further support the assertion that the system of capitalism is contributing to both the stratification and the oppression of an entire class of people.

This problem is not isolated to any one particular institution in the United States, the problem is systemic and it has been interwoven intricately into how we as Americans think about our society and the people in it. Because of how deeply it is embedded within us as a people this will not be an easy or simple undertaking, but it is vitally necessary that it is addressed. The first step in rectifying this problem is acknowledging that it exists. The second step is getting informed on just what circumstances comprise the problem. Then we can have an open discussion on how to pursue a remedy to the situation and hopefully stand as a people in solidarity making the necessary changes to our society. 

 ((new information: Judged sentenced for taking bribes to send black youth to prison))

http://www.africanglobe.net/headlines/judge-sentenced-28-years-selling-black-teens-prisons/

Following are the lyrics to the song:

Verse 1

Turn the day into the night,

cuz I really can’t deal with all the light /

The soul contrite, it will ignite,will not abide

by the code of the law in a lawless sight /

When its better to rob and not to hide,

cuz a nigga wont eat when the field divide /

When they weigh the cost and see my life,

an expendable asset, feel the rise /

Inside my heart as my mamma dies,

my father cries, its no surprise /

Starved to death and they called them lives /

Eagle eye keep a watchful spy,

suppress the rise of the poor with pride /

Defending my, my right to find,

my bit of happiness inside the lines /

The sides are drawn, the fields are long, the man is strong, but the powers to be are deftly wrong, till kingdom come, and the war is won, they’ll never see what has begun, inside the minds of mortal men, still holding on /

To a world so torn, by the wars to protect what had never been owned /

Land and the water,

air and the daughter,

son to the slaughter,

thirty piece martyr,

goona get harder to earn a dollar,

so you gotta be smart… /

Free to the be thief, whens he goona reap heat, repeat history, never could of learned to read, knew he couldn’t see thee, gotta pay a fee just to be on the streets, what he learned from the enemy, guise’d as a friend to me, fronted some amphetamines, ducking from the police, genes not holy, eyes full of greed and forgotten homies, testimonies, all they wanna see are commodities, human body monopolies, prisonous atrocities, these slave policies, are of Mephistopheles…

Chorus

Don’t wanna see us BE
Don’t wanna see us FREE
Don’t want us in the STREETS
So, CAGES are soon to BE (x3)

Don’t wanna see us BE
Don’t wanna see us FREE
NO, NO, NO….
Don’t wanna see us FREE

Verse 2

Don’t wanna see this world,

don’t wanna know whats still in store /

Let the night fully overcome,

wanna open my eyes and not be poor /

Wanna medical plan I can afford

and not to be known by my credit score /

So many doors been shut in my face,

I lost the trace, I caught a case, I’m facing time,

gotta walk the line, and keep a watchful eye,

cuz rivals ride, with shanks made out of whatever they find,

damn its hard out on the grind /

I know it seems like a fallacy,

but the tragedy is an atrocity /

Couldn’t my actions possibly,

have motives weighed collectively /

Why can’t they see my family tree,

and all the mouths that I have to feed /

I know the law like a nursery,

but now they’ve caught me dispersing these /

Tripped up rock, put a knot in my sock,

to hid from the cop while I’m on the block /

Fiends double pecking think they missed a spot,

me years from now, but no power to stop /

But I thought I had the game on lock, yet it slipped from me, like a memory, and I lost the key that kept me free, school never had a place for me, BLASPHEMY, but literacy isn’t as common as they think it be /

& The fear of such, kept me a slave unto the streets, but perception painted me, as the enemy, of this society, its propriety is a mockery, hypocracy, cuz white collar crime infects the whole economy, and aristocracy, but all they get is a slap on the wrist, cuz it kept the rich, and I get twenty five to life for payin rent, ain’t this a !!!BITCH!!! /

Might as well just dig a dicth, throw me in and steal my breath, call me NIGGER “IGNORANT”, I see how they be figurin, like prison is a Heven Sent, as to say we’re never ment, to raise the Hell up out of it, but WE RISE LIKE PHEONIX, !!!SUCK THAT!!!…

Chorus

Don’t wanna see us BE
Don’t wanna see us FREE
Don’t want us in the STREETS
So, CAGES are soon to BE (X3)

Don’t wanna see us BE
Don’t wanna see us FREE
NO, NO, NO….
Don’t wanna see us FREE

CREDITS

 MusicaDiction,

Produced by Zubin Hensler

Written by Renaissance the Poet

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