LeDerick Horne Poem at the YLF

I’m glad to hear that you guys
are getting a lot of what is expected to come from
the YLF experience. Learning about having
opportunities to think about your future. Seeing how government
and policy works. But I think at the youth
of the YLF community, and it’s in the name, it’s about giving you guys
leadership skills. And with those leadership skills you’re gonna have the
opportunity to live a more empowered life personally but then also to be able to use
your power to change the lives of the people around you. So what I’m asked to do when
I come in to share a little bit about my experiences as
a person with a disability, talk about some of the folks in
the programs that supported me and also I want to share with
you some of the ways in which I became
a self-advocate, how I got to the point where
I not only became a leader within my own life but also got
the skills that I needed to be able to assert myself and
to advocate for others. I’m a poet and so we’ll do
a little bit of poetry, a block of poetry
towards the end and actually before I get going
I’d actually like to do a poem and I always like to play with the interpreters cause I talk very fast. When we were talking
there she was like I want to start with you, I want to take that poem on. So this poem is called
New Beginning. I was born. I was born on the last day
of the ninth month in the year seven seven. And if you know your numerology you’ll see that my destiny is in line with the divine. I am only one of a chosen few. Here to offer you rhyme, reason and song combined with word magic
and poetic acrobatics that flip from my mouth, fall into microphones
and hopefully, hopefully make
a home within your minds. Hey, yo, back in time you could find cats like me snacking on knowledge-filled
fruits in the Garden of Eden but instead I made my bed
in a Garden State on the east coast of a
country that is mine because my ancestors
helped build it with blood, sweat and tears. Their daily fears still
be my every day reality. Never got caught up in
that emancipation, oh, you free now fallacy because I too have been
systematically institutionalized to rely on everything and I do mean everything except for myself. During teenage days I was
trapped in a cage without bars. Mental scars produced
by verbal whoopings. My mind’s frontlines were
infiltrated by lies in a camouflage of truth. My youth in Central New Jersey
has made me worthy of the title survivor cause I survived. Yes, I survived. I didn’t just say no,
I survived. I didn’t graduate, I survived. I didn’t grow up. I survived by dodging the
forces set on killing me and eventually I learned that
I am actually internally, externally, abstractly
and concretely a finite example
of the eternal infinity that walks in the flesh. So come walk with me, y’all. We can go for thirty miles
in any one direction. We can watch as the farmers’
fields become suburban avenues and the suburban avenues
become concrete blocks. Let’s watch as the back woods
become the rolled-up weed that feeds tired minds
and hungry souls that traded in their future
for gold chains and a ghetto equivalent
of the American Dream. Forget that dream. I’ve got a dream and I put it in each poem. I twist it in each line. I pour it in each word and make sure it’s heard
each time I drop. That’s why I always let the
hip-hop rock in my rhymes. It’s why I always flow with
an exit 9 state of mind. It’s why I stay one with the sun
to make sure my light shines and gives birth to each verse
from a place that’s divine. Hey, yo, back in time you could find cats like me snacking on knowledge-filled
fruits in the Garden of Eden but instead I made my bed in a
corner of the Garden State which was once the 908
but is now the 732. Formerly New Jersey,
now New Jeru. You know they say the place
is getting better and I just hope that’s true because we all deserve
a new beginning. Thank you.

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