Baltimore Poets on Black Lives: Children Are Being Put Back in the Ground Before They've Even Lived

May 05, 2015
Web Exclusive


Martina Lynch

Baltimore poet and rapper. On Twitter at @IamMartinaLynch.

Grim Jackson

Baltimore poet and rapper. On Twitter at @DopeNoLife.

"Your children are being put back in the ground before they’ve even lived yet," rapped Baltimore poet, Grim Jackson, during a rally Sunday calling for justice for Freddie Gray. Watch Jackson perform several pieces, along with fellow poet and rapper, Martina Lynch.

Gray died from spinal injuries, one week after Baltimore police arrested him. On Friday, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced a range of charges, including murder and manslaughter, against the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport. Click here to see Amy Goodman’s interviews Sunday with residents about their reaction to the charges.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

GRIM JACKSON: My name is Air Jordan, and I’m the soul of a dead black boy. It’s tradition that African Americans hang the souls of dead black children on wires. This is done so you’ll remember that strange fruit still grows in our community. I’ve witnessed children soar high enough to and-one angels. I’ve also witnessed children catch bullet passes, and in one shot their bodies drop back like fadeaways, not just because of the color of their skin, but because of the color of their soul. And when they see a child moving that much closer to God and touch that kind of freedom in a single bound, the only place they’d rather see the body is on the court, in the court, or as a corpse. See, souls are taken out of size six boxes and, once they’re worn, put back in the six-foot boxes to repeat the cycle. Your children are being put back into the ground before they’ve even lived yet, and we act like it’s something brand new every time around, knowing damn well it’s the same soul every time. Justice for Trayvon. Justice for Mike Brown. Justice for Freddie Gray. These are just limited edition movements. My deaths and births being re-released onto the world over and over again, gathering masses in my honor. It’s tradition for African Americans to hang the souls of dead black boys on wires. This is done so you’ll remember to repeat the cycle of slavery, whether your master be white man or white man’s product with a black man’s name on it. Sneakerhead is a religion. Being fly is just another way to say, "I want to be closer to God." I’m like the messiah to these children. My deaths and births being re-released onto the world over and over again, gathering masses in my honor. See how fresh and new that line felt the second time around. I mean, these children die every day, but the souls of them mean nothing to the world without my logo, racism and injustice, hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, hashtag #NewAirJordansMatterMore, hashtag #HashtagsDontStopItchyTriggerFingers, hashtag #HashtagsDontRaiseBlackBoysBackFromTheDead, hashtag #HeCanNeverRestInPeace, because there will be no justice. There will be no justice. There will be no peace. Just us versus the peace. Hashtag #IAmTheNewEmmettTill retro-revolutions re-released onto a new generation. Buy me. Wear Me. Forget about me. Repeat the cycle. Rant about me. Rave about me. Stand for me. Forget about me. Repeat the cycle. Be black. Kill me. Forget my name. Repeat your cycle. Hashtag #IAmTheNewAirJordan distract the populations to infinity, coming to a new store, coming to a new social network near you. Stop talking about it. And just do it.

MARTINA LYNCH: I got a dream that the makeup will disappear, so we look at you and see what was really there. I got a dream that we’ll finally really care. I know that I’ve got a figure. I look at them stop and stare. My friends want to do videos, claiming to be the baddest, trying to be individuals, ending up being plastic, dream of leaving the universe, reaching beyond the planet, hoping I gain some confidence to say what I’ve been planning. I be dreaming. I know that that sounds cliché. Who asked them? They’re talking like I called them up on three-way. But I’m so far ahead, it’s like I’m on a freeway. You’re sleeping on me. Oh, please, I’m iPhoning you prepay. You see these girls chase the glamor ever since they was in Pampers, prepping for their future. Only Jesus knew the answer, but they didn’t believe, because they never asked him. So it seemed at times we passed him, now they at the parties dancing with no self-respect. I got a dream these lyrics could possibly help raise some self-esteem. You’re looking in the mirror. You don’t like what you’ve been seeing, like the real dream chasers. I got a dream, like Martin King. I do my thing. It’s for my team. And I said I got a dream. It’s about you and me to live in unity, like how it used to be. I seen that white girl looking in the mirror. She screamed, but nobody hears her. She’s cool in school, makes the boys drool, but still she’s soaked as kerosene. That white man’s sniffing that crack, and the man says the [inaudible] black. I had a dream that that didn’t matter. Can you imagine that? I had a dream that I was on Netflix preaching to the teens, "Don’t worry about a necklace," preaching to the girls, "Don’t worry about the next chick." Get it together. Put the hood on a Lexus. Put the hood on froze. Make it so cold. See the black man shooting at a black man. I had a dream that we didn’t have self-hate, and it didn’t really matter by the black man. I had a dream we could all get along. Forget about religion, but just let our holy spirit keep [inaudible] everybody. I could [inaudible] getting money. You got the proper vision. Dog eat dog [inaudible] competition. Colored woman—sorry, I ain’t gonna finish. But I forgot to mention that I’m from a new dimension, and I’m getting to form the habit so I’m bound to make a difference. No self-respect. I got a dream these lyrics could possibly help raise some self-esteem. You’re looking in the mirror. You don’t like what you’ve been seeing, like the real dream chasers. I got a dream, like Martin King. I do my thing. It’s for my team. And I said I got a dream. It’s about you and me to live in unity, like how it used to be. I got a dream. Thank you.

GRIM JACKSON: Mommy, I have a question. Why does the moon follow me? Where do babies come from? Why are there so many balloons in your drawer? Mommy, where is Daddy going? Why was he mad? Why was he yelling? Mommy, what’s a drug? What’s drug money? What’s child support? Mommy, the police gave me and Daddy a ride today! Mommy, where’s Daddy going again? What’s the system? Is the system bad? Mommy, why are you always crying? What’s poverty? What’s a broken home? But, Mommy, when is Daddy coming home again? Mommy, what’s a statistic? My teacher said Daddy’s a statistic. Can I be a statistic when I grow up? Mommy, what’s the school-to-prison pipeline? What’s racism? Does racism still exist? What’s oppression? What is government? Does the government oppress its people? Mommy, what is AIDS? What do black people have to do with AIDS? What’s population control? Mommy, what is the new world order? Are they real? But, Ma, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, if God wrote the Bible—no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, if man wrote the Bible, then why do we call it God’s word? Who’s Lucifer? No, no, no, no, no, who’s Lucifer, really? Can light exist without darkness? Are science and religion the same? Then how come one is taught in schools and one isn’t? How come astronauts haven’t found Heaven yet? Are God and government the same? Are taxes the same as tides? But if money is the root of all evil, then why do we pay God with it? But if money is the root of all evil, why "In God we trust" on the back of all evil? But—but—but, Mommy, we need money to live. Do we live backwards? Do we live evil? Mommy, I’m scared. What’s schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD, ADHD, schizophrenia? Mommy, Mommy, what’s a pill? What’s a pill? What’s a pill? What’s a pill? What’s a pill? Mom, what’s a pill? What’s a flea sinker? Why does I sweats? I heard my doctor say today. Mom, what is innocence? When did I lose it? Mom, I took the pill. Am I a good boy now? I don’t have any more questions. All right, thank you.

MARTINA LYNCH: My phone is ringing off the hook. I can’t focus on my purpose if Impika has us hooked. My Facebook and Instagram is my closest thing to a book. Mixing all types of disaster, I swear that life is a cook. We don’t know how to love. All we seek is the movies. We’re chasing after these thugs because our fathers ain’t proving what it’s like to be a man. But I step back, and I plan in advance, mad 'cause the child he ain't planning to advance, is here now and he need their dad. A dad, well, what’s that? You cannot answer that if you’re sagging your pants on the corner, there from the night 'til the morning, sell coke ’cause you're dead broke, black boy probably no hope. This life is no joke. I’ve got the world on my shoulders, and I’m a woman. The training is hard. Loving my neighbors when everybody is hating. See, we get children of God, but we’re resembling Satan. If we don’t stop it and quit, the hate will take to the nation. So materialistic, we’ll wait in line for some tennis, but can I give to the homeless and meet our friends for some dinner. We fall short to commands when everyone is a sinner. With a genuine sorry, we could all be beginners to a new day, a new start, a new life, new art, water lights like New York. They kill us, and they get no charge, like neutrons. Uncle Sam’s so comfy, he on a futon with no shoes on. And so is everybody else, so content with how it is, we don’t even know ourselves. The radio is filled with garbage, but they don’t care, because it sells. They’re poisoning our minds, but we still poison ourselves. We buy the songs that talk about the things that we protest against. Caught a body a week ago, surprised the cops are joining in. We’re still slaves. We still crave acceptance from them. If we don’t know who we are, then we’re just trying to blend in. But we were made to stand out. And now because of our skin, it’s hard getting ahead using the power within. I used to battle the sin and drink the bottles of sin. They want us drunk out our minds, so we can end in the pen. They place a bar on every corner of the street. Up the street is a church. Go and hear the pastor preach. I pray he doesn’t lie to you, profitable, so be logical. Stop it, and let’s be logical. America has lied to you. Don’t let the devil manipulate you. I fell victim myself and not participated. I’m ashamed that I fell victim to my flesh. I let the boys lie. The world put me to the test. I partied with lost souls and didn’t [inaudible] the best. I let [inaudible] to city ways and didn’t say what I felt. I tried to be down and felt there was nothing left. No more will I give in because I’m demanding of respect. I got the power to do it, so I step back and I view it. It’d be foolish if I planted a seed and viewed it but didn’t make it a movement in my movements. I can’t keep walking with zombies pretending I’m 'sleep too, doing what they do when I am too deep to. These girls are easy to read. It's like they’re so see-through. But I can see every cut. It’s like they still bleed through. So, I guess it’s time to tell it. My generation is headed to being heartless and selfish. They’re tweeting opinions and [inaudible] of living in Internet, as big as that’s trending [inaudible] are going because we are into that. You could kill through a message so I would think twice before sending that. These babies are cussing and fighting and typing, and they’re still fresh off of Similac. And me, my phone is off the hook. Hit them on it all the time. Like I said, I’m getting hooked. Sin is taking over. Anyone could be a crook. I’m so scared to open up, so I just open up my book. Thank you.

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