For The City. For Our City

Check out this poem by our contributor Ka’Lee Strawbridge-Moten.

I remember shooting on unregulated basketball courts

Behind 7-Eleven

seven 11


like we were all king James

The only solid rock that we ever knew

Because no houses can be build on our black tops

Where fresh grass is a luxury we only see at garden stores


All money meant was how many pounds of frooties

You could buy for your homies at corner stores

Passing through a caged door with that entrance bell

Sweet music to my ears after throwing back huggies

But not the red ones because

They tasted like overpriced medicine

That mothers had to give in under doses

To their children because they could barely afford motrin


Where dreams lied at night in playing manhunt

Searching for your soul under the lights of street lamps

That lit the yellow brick road of opportunity

We rode bikes down endless back alleys

Like we were following Harriet Tubman herself


Trying to be free from the city’s desecrated air

A place where the trashmen don’t even get paid to come here


This is the part they won’t tell you about

They will starve old man Joe on 7th street

Make him sell dime bags on the corner

Then lock him up for for trying to fill the black pit

That you can’t even call his family’s stomach

City hall makes people’s homes look like black body bags

So whites can come in and fix poor hoods that they constructed

Cash for your home signs so they can kick us out

Build starbucks and shopping centers

And if you can’t buy then you can’t live


You can go to the projects

Because that’s all you’ll ever be

A project

That they will spend minimal effort on

Watch you die like in a Pavlov experiment

Condition you to not only hate yourself

But hate the very skin that you’re entrapped in

You’ll feel like less than a dog


You want us to get off of the streets but close more public schools down

Then out of business furniture stores

Giving your property to jail cells to increase property value.

You’ll Build more liquor stores in our communities

Than those dollar trees to make sure we are out of our mind

And fight over which branch that you will hang us from

Will it be poverty or Lack of education

Police brutality or Lack of jobs that actually will feed our sons

So they don’t have to be stars on empty stomachs


I Remember seeing bullets laying in alleyways

Like pennies in a wishing wale

Reflecting blood dripping…dripping…dripping

From the dreams of our fallen soldiers

The wounded veterans

Of the war for power

Black prisoners of war

From the fight for justice


“The best way to kill a group of people

Is to take away their ability to reproduce themselves”


Closed mouths don’t get fed and

uptown the open ones don’t either


Standardized test that have no application to my culture

Talking about if “Johnny went to the store with three dollars”

Well it would depend if Johnny was black

Cause if Black Johnny walks into a store

he might be brought to injustice by night watch

Caring an out of service firearm


Shot dead before he can deliver his frooties to his homies


Tell me how much is a dollar really worth….

Dead presidents for dead black boys

By the pound


Laying train tracks between the hood and what you call the promise land



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