I love poetry slams. The energy and the emotion – all from the spoken word. The fact that the White House hosted the very first one was awesome. The controversy of inviting Common, a relatively obscure (until now) hip hop artist and lyricist, brought attention to poetry slams. Yay!
FOX has colored Common as a radical rapper advocating the killing of police officers. Surprise, it isn’t true. However, you don’t have to think hard as to why some of us minorities don’t see the police as BFFs. Racial profiling, police brutality, and even murder.
One case that happened here in the Bay Area was the killing of Oscar Grant by a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police officer on New Year’s Day 2009. He was subdued, lying face down on the ground. The officer proceeded to shoot him in the back, and he died. Of course, he swore up and down he thought he was using his taser. Ugh. The case still makes me sick.
Hadeel Ramadan, a young poet from Oakland performed her piece, “Swine Flu” about the Oscar Grant case. She was featured on HBO’s Brave New Voices, the Superbowl of Poetry Slams. The text of her poem follows the video. Sorry about the quality. HBO didn’t have it on their site. Anyway, it’s powerful stuff. Enjoy!
& cracked open the levees of an epidemic
we have been fearing
the sickness made Kings perish into the nothingness that is past.
as we carry their bodies
in body bags
strapped with the heat of a thousand suns
see we don’t want the sickness
cuhs these pigs are far more deadly than any swine
holding my breath each time I stroll across police stations
cover my ears
at the sudden sound
see their songs
suckle on society like the stained lips
of rape children to their wavering mothers breast
we nurture them despite the fact that we see a shadow of our attackers face in theirs
as if the cure is unattainable
we continue to take and take
allow these nothing more than common people to bear the flesh of the gods on their simple bones
packing heartbeats in their clips
see this isn’t on no overreacting liberal kid spitting left politics bullshit
this is us giving a Grant
to the policeman who had Oscar
execution style on his knees.
you tube videos blaze from my monitor
making corpses resurrect from shallow graves
see Oscar Grant relives his death with each viewing,
as i watched his back crack as if Gaza was in its arch
& all I could remember was a photograph
i came across for the first time in high school
of a Vietnamese man crouched on his knees like a beaten dragon surrendering to mortals
It took all the way until my senior year in high school for me to learn about Hiroshima and Nagasaki
& that they are not just one of the easier genocides to talk about.
For 12 grades of my education each year the only massacre we were ever in depthly introduced to was the holocaust
Because in WW2 the U.S. fought against Germany and Japan
& in order to show the sinister ways of our adversaries
we brought one massacre to the light
& went on to crumble the disintegration of Japanese citizens into the dust we have swept under our patriotic rugs
not realizing that the U.S.A & Germany were only looking at a distorted reflection of each other
We continue to teach our children
To be U.S. Citizens before they are human beings.
Only mourn your people and their allies but disregard the flesh that lies on an enemies bones, see these borders are brainwashing
But the 2nd time I saw this photograph it broke me out of the trance
Because the artist Bansky’s spray can had revolutionized it
the same man still as a beaten dragon
but no pistol to skull
instead a bouquet of graffiti encrusted roses emerging from
his assassin’s hand
a portrait worthy of bringing new life from ash
recreated insanity into humanity
& I have strived to do the same for Oscar Grant with this very poem
Because we are the artists of the movement,
are trying so hard to bring lost souls back to life,
trying so hard to reshape history
With our paint stained fingertips
But I have learnt to start working on right now
& so I will use these graff battered roses
& place them on the grave of the rape fetus
our society finally decided to abort
because we are DONE, nurturing the genes of our oppressors
will mold together each struggle I have come to know
Find Palestine in every foreign
Counterpart working class back bent 9 to 5 barefooted barely making ends meet
See this is the only way peace can prevail
When the good do something
To stop evil.
From Oscar Grant to Hara Tamiki
THERE IS NO SHORTER WAY HOME.
& Once we realize are pain is universal that is when we can bring the orbit of divinity back to our world
So our globe no longer has to rest on an axis of evil.
Let the voice of our deceased demi-gods rumble through our vocal chords
MY NAME IS OSCAR GRANT, DON’T SHOOT
MY NAME IS HARA TAMIKI , LET ME DIE
MY NAME IS MARTIN LUTHER, IMMORTALIZE MY KINGDOM
MY NAME IS CHE GUEVARA, PATRIA OMUERTE
MY NAME IS ANNE FRANK, LIVE THROUGH MY WORDS
MY NAME IS EDWARD SAIID, TAKE ME HOME
MY LAST NAME IS RAMADAN
& I am starving for your humanity.