Outgoing Poet Laureate El Jones at Halifax Regional Council – “I know what you see”…


I know what you see When the media reports he was known to the police The incident took place on that block on Gottingen Street And not the part where we eat or the part renamed Novalea The part where those descendents of Africville be And the part it would be better if it just became clean Or maybe it’s how North Preston’s Finest is ten times longer than North Preston On the Wikipedia entry So I know what you see. Little babies in bandannas who read at Grade Three And I know that you look at them and see just some kind of killer And media comments stop just short of calling us gorillas Let’s be honest they say these weren’t exactly pillars of society. The same media that’s only there to report on notoriety And I know grown adults who have never seen variety Never been in a museum or even left the block And so we’re born and the hands start ticking on a clock Because you make us raise our kids in the school of hard knocks And you only hit the alarm once someone gets armed But you close down our schools then accuse us of harm And we’re so cute until we grow and then somehow we lose our charm So that’s all you see Little kids in the principal’s office before they can read And the grade ones list me names of every dead person they know Little boys who can’t even cry at the funerals they go And then you come to our marches like its a show And they never catch the people who make the drugs and guns flow To little boys without a future when the game is the recruiter When we can’t get jobs our only option is to ball or be a shooter They put guns into our hands instead of computers And drugs into our veins when there’s no other way to end the pain And there’s never any help until we’re taking aim As if when we’re born our only dreams are to get into the game And then after all that you say the Black community should be ashamed And we can’t even go to wakes without being under siege When to mourn your son you have to walk by 20 vans full of police And we can’t even grieve because they won’t let us rest in peace And some other little boy that’s all he’ll ever see And I know that’s what you see, suspects with t-shirts over faces We sit in cells without our belts and with shoes without the laces Little kids grow up without a father to put them through the paces While the rest of the city says thank god the problem’s been contained And no one cares about our lives until we become the cases We disappear into the prison and then we’re just erased We come from places where we can’t get pizza delivered Where roads don’t get plowed for days after a blizzard There ain’t no grocery stores Can’t get a cab driver to drop you off at your door And when the police raid your home the children hit the floor And it ain’t no secret that poor and powerless is how we are living And I’ve mentored brilliant artists from the time that they were childen And then they grow up and I visit them in prison As if we’re the ones at fault for the conditions we’ve been given Little girls kicked out of school because they’re labelled bullies for a fight While in their home their step father is touching them at night And then they’re traded in the game and their names are out of sight And I’m tired of seeing youth with so much pain behind their eyes And all you see is some young thug who’s throwing up gang signs While there’s lines tattooed on his skin to my brother R.I.P. But when he walks around downtown you move across the street And when she walks into a store you call security And when we’re seen as a problem that has to somehow go away And our elders remember Africville like it was yesterday And now new housing regulations say can’t have a business in the home So the little that we have we can’t even call our own Make noise after 9pm and they’ll throw you in the streets I don’t know how you can’t see that my people can’t even weep 400 years of suffering this pain until the wounding runs so deep And I know brothers with so much trauma that they never even sleep And I’m scared to have a son because I don’t know if I can keep him alive When it seems the only time you pay attention is when we’re committing drive-bys And then you blame the mothers and say if she only raised him right And when we turn the violence on ourselves you won’t call it suicide And you’ll never ask what happened to make this young man die Or to make this young man kill When trying to make it out takes almost impossible acts of will Even when we have the talent and the skill, in the studio or court But most of our kids get out of high school and then there’s no support I can’t forget we come from people who were traded sold and bought
When we’re still being valued by society and always falling short
And I know with every death you see us more as a threat
And you make all sorts of judgements about people you never met
And I don’t understand how you can watch this and your eyes aren’t even wet But I know what you see. Thugs and gangsters all we be
In newspapers and TV. All over this city. I know what you see.

9 thoughts on “Outgoing Poet Laureate El Jones at Halifax Regional Council – “I know what you see”…

  1. Did not the freed slaves from the American colonies come to Acadia? Did not more freed slaves come to Acadia in the war of 1812.

    I would encourage the author to read the heroic tales of the HMCS Blackjoke to get a better understanding of the history of the country she lives in.

  2. I see an insensitive, hateful, racist bitch insulting the same people who honoured her by appointing her poet laureate.

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