Tag Archives: Spoken Word

Shelf-Life

I was born with an expiration date,
hung from my neck,
stamped like a license plate
It was a notice to the world stating
Get what you can from him because he won’t see 18
He won’t make it to college, not through high school
And do not listen to him when he tells you these are his dreams
Because they’re lies, and whether he recognizes it or not
We, have plans for him
And those plans neither include a family nor a happiness
Because neither are sufficient motivation for him to comply with us
No! for us to get what we want from him,
he must be, broken, shattered, hopeless
And he must believe he is the one responsible for his condition
He must believe it is the result of, his, decisions
That he chose his position
That he had an equal opportunity with everyone else to do something different
He can never know that the wrong side of the tracks
was really red lines on a map
drawn down at city hall
That it was the National Housing Act of 1934
That laid the path for the rise of the ghetto,
urban farms, where it’s not crops that are grown,
but people, stock for cell blocks,
to subsidize markets locked
by inflation from free trade participation in a nation
that ain’t never done shit without enslavement
These are the things he can never know
He cannot know that poverty, like wealth is created
He cannot know that it wasn’t chance,
or a roll of the dice that planted him in impoverishment like cracks in the pavement
He cannot know that the ghetto is not inevitable,
that it is not unchangeable, that being poor is not a fate, not predetermined
but planned, scripted, constricted to particular segments of the society we live
Because should he ever learn these things,
then that is the moment we lose control of him
And we need a continuous supply of workers, strong, and ready to go
Who will accept never drawing a check,
never checking the drawing and asking,
did I ever actually have a chance to live?
Is having a shelf-life really living?
Knowing you are member to a group of human beings they call and endangered species, they, call me, an endangered species
I was never expected to live
Imagine the weight of a license plate like that
If it hung from your neck could you ever stand fully erect, would you perform to your best, if the best you could expect was to somehow slip detection or to die in prison, stamping the plates of future children who will be following your steps
How would you feel?
How would you act?
If you knew the system might have more to gain from your death?
 
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A Prisoner on the Streets of America

I am a true renaissance man and I have experienced so many forms of life and held so many positions or roles that it is difficult to narrow my thinking down to one foundational experience that has shaped and influenced my life. I died in a car accident when I was seven years old and the outcomes of being brought back to life and my faculties resulted in every person who was close to me expressing that I had a great role to fulfill on Earth.

I grew up in rough, alcoholic, and often violent home when I was younger and this heavily shaped my perception of poverty, addiction, relationships and vulnerability. My parents split when my mother had to flee from my father after he threatened to kill all of us before killing himself. That morning was the last time I ever saw my father and that definitely had a major influence on my life. The only place my family could flee to were areas in Oregon where my brother and I were the only black students in the schools. This was at a time that Oregon still had a prohibition in its State Constitution stating that Oregon was to be a white utopia and that black people were not permitted to settle within the limits of the state. Those experiences definitely shaped my perception of the world and my life. When we finally escaped the racist treatment of the people in Oregon, we moved to the Central District in Seattle where my brother and I, being tri-racial and coming directly from an all-white area lacked much of the social capital needed to be accepted by the black community in Seattle and found ourselves ostracized as outsiders. Those experiences also shaped my perception and influenced my life.

Shortly thereafter, I found myself indoctrinated into gang-life, criminal activity, and drugs. As a result of my behaviors, I spent a lot of time incarcerated and even went to juvenile prison for an extended period of time. It was there that I began to write poetry, which later in my life would lead me to being a spoken word and hip hop artist and being named Renaissance the Poet. After I was released from their prison, I was not able to shake the gang or the drugs, but the poetry stuck with me. On my eighteenth birthday I was given a drug called ecstasy, and under its influence was when I had my first experience with god. That experience caused me to leave the gang and the drugs alone and before I knew it, I had walked across the country from Washington to Massachusetts where I joined and became a priest in a cult.

I stayed with them for the better part of a year before I was able to escape from the mental imprisonment and the only method I knew to shut out the demons swirling in my head was to use drugs and alcohol to silence them. However, when I found myself back in Seattle I was ensnared by the chains of addiction once again and when the excitement of my return wore off, all of my family and friend severed their ties with me. I was left homeless, without prospects, and alone. Worst of all, the drugs were no longer working to silence the demons swirling in my head and a deep depression set in. After giving up everything I thought I was supposed to give up for god I felt truly alone because to me at the time that not even god could save me from myself.

Without anything else holding me to the planet or the people on it, I decided to take my own life by jumping off the Aurora Bridge. However, while I was walking to the bridge from Lake City, a lesson I head while I was in prison came back to me. There was an O.G. Vice Lord from Chicago that came to visit us and he told us that strangely, he discovered that he felt more free when locked-up, and more of a prisoner when he was on the streets. At the time I heard him say that, I thought he was out of his mind, but as I became a victim of the streets and was on my way to end my life I finally understood what he meant so many years earlier. Aside from having my liberty taken from me, the single other largest factor to the peace I felt while I was in prison was that I was not using drugs. So, while I was on my way to the bridge I decided to call the emergency services and with the direction they gave me while they treated me overnight in a few short weeks I was able to find my way into a chemical abuse treatment facility, which changed my life forever. I have been sober ever since and I have never felt as hopeless as I did that night I walked to the bridge to end my suffering.

Getting sober did not solve all the problems I had in my life, but it did provide me with the tools to access a level of peace necessary to confront those problems. I had four felonies and several misdemeanors on my criminal record. Furthermore, I had failed high school and at the current standing when I left, I was a 0.0 GPA student. I had no place to call home, no friends, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. I was able to gain access to a half-way house for people in transition from institutions and shortly after I began living there I woke up to the news of 9/11. I did not know it when I moved in, but the house was run by a Mormon church, and while there is nothing wrong with helping the community, I had a hard time coping because of my experience with the cult I was in; there were too many similarities. Then given the factors of my history that were barring me from both employment and education, I decided to go to a Job Corps facility.

If there was any experience in my life that I believe really set the stage for the man I was to become, then it was my experience at Tongue Point Job Corps Center in Astoria Oregon because it was there that I learned that I as an individual could have a positive impact in the lives of the people around me. Job Corps used to provide a bi-weekly allowance for the students that lived on campus, but that stipend was very limited. However, students could get a job to subsidize the funds they were lacking and I was encouraged to become part of the student government. I did and within a few months I had worked my way up the being the student body president of the facility. Aside from providing for the extracurricular activities for my fellow students we also challenged microagressions and negative stereotypes, although, at the time I did not know that is what we were doing. We challenged the center’s policy on sagging pants and how it related to the administration’s and staff’s perceptions of black youth who sagged their pants. I sagged my pants at the time and I was the president. More important, it was the issue that the students wanted me to bring up and fight for them.

While at the job corps facility I earned my G.E.D., my high school diploma, and printing apprentice certificate, and even started college. My goal for attending college was to go into law school, become a lawyer, then enter into politics and eventually become the president. It was a mixture between my experience at Job Corps being the president and a class I had in when Mr. Mollette my high school history teacher that told me that any American citizen could become president, one of the days that I passed through his class. I dropped out of school a few quarters after beginning and returned to Seattle thinking that I would get into college, but that was much easier said than done. My criminal record from when I was a juvenile still haunted me and I was barred from employment in most establishments.

I gave up on the idea of ever being able to afford college and found myself working in a used retail store for about a year when I began my journey into construction work. A man I met started hiring me on weekends to do odds and ends for him and paid me well. Then he brought me on as his first full time employee and decided that I would become his apprentice and eventually buy him out and take over the company. Within a few years I had become a professional heavy equipment operator, pipe-layer, estimator, and project manage and then I became a partner in the developing construction company negotiating contracts with Mid Mountain Contractors, Turner Construction, King County, and the City of Seattle.

During this time with the construction company I also started, hosted and ran the Cornerstone Open Mic & Artist Showcase, a hip hop and spoken word open mic that happen monthly at the Fair Gallery and Café on Capital Hill in Seattle, with my best friend and adopted brother Marcus Hoy. Mark Hoy and Sean Stuart are the people who named me Renaissance the Poet, because of the rollercoaster life I had lived prior to meeting them and the skill I had with poetry. The Cornerstone, as it became known, was a hub for revolutionary minded poets and artists from around the Puget Sound area where we discussed and challenged some of the most disparaging issues confronting our generation, such as, patriarchy, sexism, racism, and state control of citizens. Some of us may have been revolutionaries and activists at the time, but for the most part we were simply artists learning how to exercise our minds and our voices while we were learning how to exist and survive in the world we were all born into. In the more than five years that we hosted the Cornerstone, there was not one fight, and this was nearly unheard of for any hip hop venue anywhere at the time. Many relationships were forged there and the underground cultural element of resistance and justice was kept alive and fostered.

In 2010, our company won the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business “Minority Business of the Year” award. However, I always felt that I had missed my true calling to fulfill a great role on earth and thought that becoming a lawyer was the method I was supposed to take to achieve that role. In 2008, the economy spun on its head and we went into a dire recession that put a lot of pressure on our company. In 2011, a couple years after I had destroyed my knee mentoring some youth with the organization called TSB, the Service Board, battling to keep our business afloat and continuing to damage my knee, I realized that construction was never a trade I wanted to be in and decided to do whatever it took to go to college. So, I left R.J. Richards CE LLC and enrolled in North Seattle Community College (NSCC).

Somehow and somewhere along the line I had gotten this plan for my life and what I was supposed to do with it embedded into my head. I am going to write a new socioeconomic system for the entire planet that is environmentally sound, socially just, and equitable for all; and I am going to see it implemented before the day I die. I began studying history, philosophy, economics, sociology, psychology, biology and mathematics and my understanding of the world exploded my perceptions of humanity and the insurmountable character of my goal. That is when I became involved with another student government and I was brought in as the Student Fee Board Coordinator, which was the treasurer for the college. To do that job I had to study the Washington State laws associated with public monies and student fees, and to study ethics because I had to select and train a board and we were going to have to make tough ethical decision. Before that I knew being part of the government enabled me to have a lot positive influence in the lives of marginalized people from my experience at Job Corps. However, I never fully grasped how much power the United States Congress has on the lives of every citizen in the United States until I was given a smaller, yet similar role. People can design all the best programs in the world, but if they do not have the funds to get them started and to maintain them, then they may often never be able to achieve the goals of their programs.

At this time OCCUPY was challenging the corporate structure and control of people’s lives worldwide after the economic collapse in 2008. Like Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about the white clergy who questioned the movement while he was in the Birmingham jail during Project Confrontation, I agreed with their aims, but I disagreed with their methods. I disagreed with the mostly because I did not comprehend how they could be successful. It was a leaderless movement with demands that ran the spectrum. At the time it seemed to me that the movement lacked the necessary cohesion to achieve its aims. It was not that I disagreed with any of the demands. To the contrary, I believed that all of the things people were asking for should be achieved. My issue at the time was that I thought they could achieve more of their demands if they focused on them one or few at a time. I did not get involved with the movement because I did not understand it.

In 2013 I graduated from NSCC and had been accepted to the University of Washington (UW). When I first started at NSCC I thought that I would enter into the Law, Societies, and Justice program at UW, but by the time I entered the university I had settled on double-majoring in history and philosophy. I was still intent on progressing onto law school. I thought getting a good background in reading and research, with training in analysis, which the discipline of history would provide me with would be helpful in this regard. I thought having a strong understanding of morality and ethics, and the philosophical frameworks they are grounded in, plus developing my argumentative skills, which the discipline of philosophy would provide would further prepare me for law school and the work ahead of me. My ethical training began with a look at global justice, which confronted issues such as poverty, hunger, gendered vulnerability, social contracts, state legitimacy, climate change, immigration and feudal privilege, and many forms of oppression. It was these arguments about justice, which is to provide for that which promotes most the flourishing of all human beings, not the interpretation of it as punishment common in the United States that exposed me to the concepts of obligation and responsibility. History provided me with a lens into why these conditions exist and what factors led them to come into being. The courses at UW changed the way I envision my role in the world and I began to feel an immediate responsibility and obligation to use the knowledge and wisdom I had to benefit people.

During the summer of 2013, Sarra Tekola, my partner in life, brought me to my very first protest. We traveled down to the Columbia River on the border of Washington and Oregon States to participate in the Portland Rising Tide opposition to the coal and oil that were being shipped from the west coast to China. At the time, Sarra was an Environmental Science major at UW and part of the Divest University of Washington coalition and she schooled me on how important the issue of climate change was to our survival as a species. She also hipped me to the fact that people of color worldwide are the not only the first impacted by the effects of climate change, but are also the most impacted by it as well. She informed me that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the best and brightest scientists on the planet determined that if we as a civilization burn enough carbon to increase the temperature of the planet by two degrees Celsius cumulatively, we will enter into a negative feedback loop of destruction that we will not be able to recover from. Desertification will destroy once plush and arid farm lands, like what had happened to her father’s people in Ethiopia. Melting polar ice caps will submerge places like the Philippines displacing millions, many of whom will die in the process. So, it was important to protest the extraction and transportation of carbon producing materials for everyone on the planet, but especially for people of color because people of color have nest to no power in the decision making circles like the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. It was scary and every moment I thought I was going to be arrested. Canoes spread across the river to block any ships and people spanned the bridge above holding signs, while a group rappelled off the bridge to display a huge banner. We did not stop the extraction or transportation of fossil fuel materials that day, but it felt good making a stand with like-minded people for the sake of justice.

The summer of 2014 I went to Greece with the Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS) of UW to conduct research on immigration. I thought my time in Greece would help me to work on the issues surrounding immigration in the United States. Greece had been suffering from a major recession for several years and was also experiencing a major influx of people from the Middle East and the African continent. Most of the migrants were fleeing from deplorable situations and most did not intend for Greece to be their final destination, many wanted to continue onto other European Union (EU) nations. Greece was the entry point by both water and land into the EU for many migrants. However, the EU had tightened its policy on migrants and because of the Dublin II Regulation, the EU was returning any migrant discovered in any country to the country they entered into the EU at to process their applications of asylum. In addition to the recession, and the lack of financial assistance from the EU for both the residents of the country and the new influx of immigrants, there was also a nationalist and xenophobic organization oppressing the immigrants named Golden Dawn. Golden Dawn was a two-winged organization like the Dixiecrats of the South because they had nineteen percent of the parliamentary seats in Greece, in coordination with an organization like the Ku Klux Klan because they had a grassroots physically repressive regime harming immigrants. Immigration could be studied in any country in the world, but the particular set of conditions in Greece enabled us to observe the systematic denial of almost every singly right it is commonly agreed that people inherently possess simply for the sake of being human.

My second night in Greece at the American College of Greece dorm that UW has a satellite facility, I was taking a smoke break in the smoking section when for officers on two motor cycles turned the corner and immediately jumped off their bikes and pointed assault rifles at me simply because I am a black man. This may seem like a strange assertion until you have been to Athens, Greece and become acquainted with the reality that millions of people smoke and because of the smoldering heat that many people are out on the streets at night. There was nothing about me or what I was doing that was out of place except for the color of my skin. Luckily, I had my passport on me at that particular moment and I was saved from being hauled off into one of their immigration prisons. Their whole attitude toward me shifted as soon as they discovered I was an American, but until that moment I felt as though they regarded me as less than the mud on their boots would have shot me just to get a laugh. It was not until I hung out with an enterprising group of migrants from all over Africa in Monostraki Square—an electric flee market—and spending time with a parliamentary member that I learned Greece was a police state, and that the police had the authority to act independently of the government. I heard stories of how the police would select a street that migrants were known to frequent, then would block the exits, beat all the people of color and then imprison them. I spent most of my time in Greece terrified for my life from both the police and Golden Dawn because I did not have the social networks or rights that I had back in the United States. However, two nights before we left Greece I received word about the execution of Michal Brown in Ferguson, Missouri by officer Daren Wilson and I knew there was no escape from state sanctioned or permitted violence.

The O.G. Vice Lord’s words came back to me and kept playing over and over in my head about how we are prisoners on the streets. Being a black man in America I exist as W.E.B. Du Bois mentions, with a “double-consciousness,” constantly viewing myself from two lenses; I experience myself as a man, and I am also always conscious of my status as a “black” man as viewed by white Americans. People of color in the United States suffer from dire economic sanctions which impose poverty upon us with a capitalistic system and an ideological framework of individualism. The system of oppression is held in place through red lining, the regressive tax system, voter disenfranchisement, poor education, and limited access to capital. Until I began researching the School-to-Prison Pipeline (STPP), I did not understand why many of the people I grew up with ended up in prison or dead, or locked in the revolving trap of poverty. I did not understand or even know about the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) or how it was linked to the Military Industrial Complex (MIC).  I had learned, like most people are taught that Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ended slavery. However, what they do not teach is that slavery was abolished “except” in the case that a person is convicted of a crime. From that debt peonage and convict leasing emerged and over time prison slavery became a huge industry in the United States to the point that now America which has five percent of the world’s population also warehouses twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population. The largest consumer of prison labor in the United States is the U.S. Department of Defense, a.k.a., the MIC.  But prisoners also fabricate furniture and produce paint and clothing for many companies. Prison labor subsidizes many industries that otherwise would be too expensive to conduct in the United States, industries that create products other countries would have a comparative advantage producing. Prisons are an oasis for profit that is garnered from the exploitation of millions and that also disproportionately disparages communities of color.

Applying the aforementioned information about the PIC to the statistics about the rates of suspension, expulsion, and incarceration of the youth of color in the U.S. the School-to-Prison Pipeline began to make a lot more sense. Black children and children of people of color are three times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school. From the ninth grade on, one suspension or expulsion makes them fifty percent more likely to be incarcerated. After these children are incarcerated they become seventy-five percent more likely to enter the adult penitentiary system with prison slave labor, and over eighty-five percent likely to remain trapped in recidivism for the rest of their lives, in addition to their being disenfranchised from their first incarceration in accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of all these factors is a phenomenon known as Institutional Racism/Discrimination that permeates America’s society and institutions. The police and prosecuting attorneys have been granted arbitrary discretionary power and legal protections to act with impunity in its dealing with citizens. So, in toto, the U.S. Department of Justice with all its subsidiary prisons and law enforcement agencies when stripped of its colorful and well-sounding appeals to justice and order dissolves to a system of oppression, suppression, and exploitation.  With this understanding of the ‘criminal justice’ system in the United States, the fact that most of the people I grew up with wound up in the negative feedback loop of poverty and exploitation, or how and why Michael Brown’s executioner was able to commit the atrocity with impunity were no longer mysterious to me. We, being people of color, whom at any time can have our very lives stripped from us because the laws of this country deny that we have a right to life, are prisoners on the streets of America.

Therefore, when I returned from Greece and Black Lives Matter, which was started by Alicia Garza after the assassination of Trevon Martin in 2012, decided to organize and protest the abuses of law enforcement and for justice in the Michael Brown execution, given my sense of responsibility and obligation to use the knowledge and wisdom I had to the benefit people of my community, I joined the movement for Black Liberation. My participation in the movement has taken many forms over the last year reaching from protests, to arrests, to testifying at Seattle City Hall and King County Metropolitan Council chambers, to giving a speech to Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee. All the while I was still a student at UW continuing to learn about the system we live in and the factors that helped to created it. My academic pursuits definitely suffered when I became involved in the movement because my time became divided, but that does not mean I have not continued to be successful. I highly doubt that I will be selected as the valedictorian as I was when I graduated from NSCC, but I nonetheless, have managed to maintain a very strong GPA given all of my community activity. However, that has no longer been my primary objective. I have used my education to learn what happened during previous social movements and struggles and I now understand the importance of a leaderless movement and demands that are specific to the regions they are made. I have learned precisely what I did not understand about the OCCUPY movement. There are some similar macro-problems, such as racism and institutional discrimination that people of color suffer everywhere, but those problems are expressed differently in different places. Furthermore, there is a history of the U.S. Department of Justice, through programs like COINTELPRO under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that systematically destroyed activists and Civil Rights organizations in the 1960s and 70s.

I have lived one incredible, rollercoaster of a life that has made me a jack of all trades, and a true renaissance man. At no time have I ever known where one event would lead me. And looking back it is very difficult to pinpoint any one specific event that shaped me into the man that I am or the man I am becoming. Taken out of context, none of the major shifts or events in my life will tell anyone very much about me, who I am, or why I do the things I do. But the words of the O.G. Vice Lord from Chicago that I met while locked up have been with me since then. There is something very wrong with feeling like and being a prisoner on our own streets. A place where one might think epitomized the essence freedom. That contradiction of beliefs filled my soul with dissonance and it reverberated through all of my life-experiences until it shook loose the warrior in me. Renaissance means to revitalize, or to bring new life. The system we live in has become a runaway train that no one seems to know how to stop or get off of, and what we need is to breathe new life into our civilization. We need a new system of values and an expanded conception of “we” that signifies, represents, and displays through action that we and our planet are all connected and intersecting components of our world organism. Each and every one is vital. No one is expendable. We all have our roles to fulfill on Earth. We are all responsible.

All Lives (((Don’t))) Matter

Should of seen it comin

&, Hit the ground runnin

in the, opposite direction

Cuz my, life was meaning nothing

To the cops, with the guns in hand

Pop Pop Pop Pop

there we go again

Got another badge of honor

Running cross his shoulder man

But Why it gotta be

Life is valued less than

nonliving property

Things that don’t walk

Things that won’t talk

Things with no soul

Things without heart

Object, by, every sense, of the word

Got more, worth, than a life, that’s absurd!

But, How else, could they, own a human being

Unless, they were, to reduce them to a thing

Sell it, trade it, mate it, complicate it, debated

the price at which it was stated, couldn’t escape, it

was slated as racist, lyin to faces

said if places was traded, justice be weighted

but the coldest shit that I ever did see

Was to make us think that they ended slavery

But have you ever read amendment 13/

When they made an exception

hope you’re peepin the lesson

the Crime clause a justification

to move & arrest’em

to conceal in punishment,

enslavement, investment

Profit from leasing convicts

to mines and plantations

the spine of this nation

Black Belt, Southern tribulations/

Fat Cats, with Fat Pockets

Getting Richer than George Wallace

On, Jim Crow and Politics

While Booker T, was like just take it, we’ll make it

Du Bois, was like fuck these haters

& face hidin KKK’ers, get educated

& Take the ballot box before they encase it/

Cuz Section 2, of the 14th Amendment Stated

and gave basis for felony disenfranchisement

Which was a slap to the faces of the newly liberated/

So this whack ass system, yo, they couldn’t change it

cuz they couldn’t vote to replace it

Black Codes, were the new modes, of enslavement/

Vagrant to chain gangs workin the pavement/

Repayin a debt to society that was never lent; shady

in the first place

Black Wall Street, the first Case/

Tulsa, Oklahoma a metropolis that rivaled New York’s monopolist

With Black Teachers, lawyers, Doctors

Separated from white culture, was obvious

that integration anomalous, like the Battle of Salamis

not analogous to the Freedom Riders in 1961/

Peep game Son of the Sun, Anubis, Akhenaton

Timbuktu, Cairo, Addis Ababa , Abyssinian

Zulu, who knew,

that the negative language in the 15th Amendment

could and would be used for legal lynching and social estrangement

like fuck the arraignment,

went from there’s a tree, “let’s hang’em”

Billy Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” to ghetto assassination

state sanctioned, for those who escaped the New Jim Crow

and prison slave labor

Yo, for real though,

these crooked ass cops ain’t nothing but modern day: SLAVE CATCHERS

You know the Fugitive Slave Clause in the U.S. Constitution

Article IV: Section 2

“No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”

Is still in force and on paper

And you cannot even begin to debate it,

that the 3/5 clause in Article I: Section 2 has been erased

when prisoners who cannot vote are still being counted as voters in the states they are caged in

regardless, of whether or not, that was the state from which they originated

so that Congress can have more seats in office

What I am saying is that I should have turned away

because Black Lives, in this nation, with these rules, and these ideological traces

Are valued not on the basis of being human beings

but on the sweat our labor displaces

And if and when we are not consigned to enslavement, our value they attempt to debase it

and that is why cops get away with, emptying cases in our hide on a damn near daily basis

this system is racist

They Want Us Alone. They Want Us Divided. But We Stand United!

Alone; is how they want us;

“They” being the corporate interests, the big bankers, the financial stake holders and politicians who are profiting from our suffering and struggles

“They” being the ones who continuously make false promises to get us to leave the premises when we are advocating for our rights, hiding behind proto and para military units, and yet they claim to be on our side, but won’t even take the time to shake our hands and look us in our eyes when we have grievances

“They” being the ones who attempt to turn us against one another, dangling cheap carrots in front of us because they believe we are so hungry that we will bite the hands that actually feed us, and not the ones that feed us just enough to keep us alive enough to slave away while they are living like fats-cats, getting rich off our demise

“They” being the ones who mandate unrealistic quotas and punish us for not being able to complete them on their time-tables, on their schedules, constricting our work forces, doubling our work-loads, skimping our benefits, depleting our retirement funds, exhausting our world

“They” being the ones who only know as much about us as the number they reference on their accounting sheets, before submitting profit & loss statements to their corporate headquarters in some other state or country, so far away that I bet most of us have never even met “they”

And it begs the question; how could they ever know much more, or even care for, any of us if they do not know how we live, where we return home to at night, how hard we actually work for them, or even something as simple as our names?

Yeah, “they” are the ones who want us; ALONE

They want us alone because they believe we are easier targets, easier to manipulate, easier to pressure and to coerce into questionable and fragile positions from which we have no alternative but to consent to inequitable conditions and treatments

They want us alone because it is easier to deny promises made, harms done and stratified wage rates that often run the lines of gender and race;

Women are earning 75 cents to every man’s Dollar in this grand country of ours, the glass ceiling is a carrot revealing future that is impossible to reach, tantalizing leeches, exasperating and crushing the dreams of even the best of our sisters and brothers, believe this

Because when they have us alone, backed into a corner with all their college educated professional coercers, “they” will have us believing it is our fault that we did not get that raise or that promotion we had worked so long and so hard for

And when one of our brothers and sisters ingests this type of rhetoric, there is no medicine that will offset the grief and dissatisfaction with our selves that is set in, it latches itself to our bones and erodes our hopes, crumbling our dreams before us like castles built in the sand before the rain comes to wash them away

Migrants and Minorities get stuck on the sticky floors that deny almost all upward social mobility; start as a janitor, die as a janitor… And there is nothing inferior about being a custodial worker, it is a very estimable position and vitally necessary to the function of any and every institution; so, it is not a humbling decision for a person to choose to be a career custodian, so long as it is their choice to make.

However, that is not how the Sticky Floor works.

People are barred access to occupations other than entry level positions because of some numerical calculations the bean pushers reckon to be a safe and acceptable risk factor of investment; taking into account a person’s historical record and often times criminal or documented status as a citizen; which supersedes that  person’s choice for meritous recognition

That means they are not being judged by the contents of their characters, but rather by the covers of their books and this is why they want us alone, because only when we stand alone can they act with the impunity requisite to humiliate our people in this manner

They want us alone because when the whim comes to downsize and layoff hard-working and devoted employees who have invested our entire lives into a company comes about, there is no collective bargaining, there is no unity among the people to stand against the usurpations, humiliations and destructiveness of the decisions of the few over the many; and there is no one to hold them accountable to their word

But it is our sweat, our blood, our tears that went into those foundations, into those products being sold on the shelves, flying in those air planes, that kept those patients safe and comfortable while they were in our hospitals, and kept our buildings clean and healthy; We have invested far more collectively, even when they want us alone, than they ever could have because these are our communities and we have more claim and right to them than anyone does

Which brings us to both the beauty and the reality; we are not alone! We stand together! We Work Together! We Sustain our Communities Together! And what affects one of us, affects us all!

And we all know what happens when a people united stand against an oppressive regime, that regime resorts to political and character assassinations, reduced wages, pink slips, and threats of eliminations.

An when that does not work, they resort to cages and State Sanctioned Violence against the people they have had locked in enslavement because they believe they are the ones who own our communities, as if to say they are the ones who have invest blood, sweat and tears to raising and protecting our children

They are not riots, but rebellions! May Day and the Hay Market Bombing during the formative years of the Unions was an uprising in response to a continuous cycle of usurpations and degradations; But they are so quick to label Baltimore and Ferguson as riotous behavior as an attempt to discredit the very real concerns that reach back generations through out-sourcing, red-lining, Jim Crow, and slavery;

The rise of the prison industrial complex, and the militarization of the police institution designed to keep the people in so-called ‘order’ which is just another code word for enslavement; behave and don’t make waves or your and all your people will either be dead or locked in cages

And yet, even though they control the military and have for centuries, each generation and throughout the planet the people have continued to rise up and to stand together against their oppressors, it’s amazing!

What that tells me, is that even with all of their tactics, all their power and money and propaganda they cannot stop us so long as we do not stand alone, but stand together and that is why they breed dissention, create stratification and promote the relegation of particular groups of people; because “they” want us to be and to feel alone.

United We Stand! United We Win!