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“Like 80s Graffiti” (spoken word by Enmanuel Candelario)

They say it takes a village to raise a child

But I’ve heard and come to feel the opposite

It takes a child to raise a village

Young men on corners like 80’s graffiti

While the cops chase artists responsible for the gritty–my bad city

It’s synonymous but they don’t want pity

That’s why their stare is anonymous and the air ominous

Filled with broken homes and promises

Cus mostly you find police chalk line

Is the only time we figure a father so they figure might as well be a martyr

And we fly only to crash down might as well be mortars

The weight of the world is too much for our mothers

Young men on corners like Thursday’s trash

Waiting for government workers to pick them up

This young man is so broke he can’t spend the time to invest in his own future

He says “school is not for me”

I reply but destiny is and you need to find your own

So I front him my time and co sign the loan

I want them to know that I’ve been where they are

Been through college but I’m still not very far

My footprints is fresh on the block

Some are deep in the game, I’m deeper in thought

Boys become men through rites of passage

So I write my passage in verses mixed with curses hoping it’ll touch the masses

Young men on corners like prophets

They ain’t afraid of death

They know genius is appreciated posthumously

They switch their swagger accordingly, to the left

They know Hip Hop was a child left so far behind it was close to the edge

Pushed far enough some rocks become sapphires

And the opposite is true

Cus the godfathers of Hip Hop saw their art become its own satire

That’s why we obsessed with keeping it real

Blatant bravado for the boys in blue

Daring their conviction like

“What you gonna do now that the president fits the description”

Reality is we’ve been struggling with attrition

We are victims trying to act like we are not victims

How do you reverse hundreds of years of a condition

1st step is to cry and get it out of your system

Find strength in vulnerability

Tap into humanity

Otherwise young men on corners like yesterday’s news

War on terror drafted yesterday’s fools

I’ve seen a generation of children left behind get left back

And now they are between Iraq and a hard place, a scarred place

Cuz their role models were don Juan and Scarface

“Being there” is hard work

Especially for those who are giving what they never had

So I tell them “no one can walk your path, it is your own

But the difference is made knowing you’re not walking alone.”



Thank you TJ for sharing those hard hitting, touching words of reality. (And thank you for all that you do to reach out to our black men).

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