“You Have the Rite” | Marc Bamuthi Joseph


Me and the boy wear the same shoe size. He wants a pair of
Air Jordan 4s for Christmas. I buy them, and then I steal them from his closet, like a twisted Grinch-themed
episode of “Black-ish.” (Laughter) The kicks are totems to my youth. I wear them like mercury
on my Black man feet. I can’t get those young
freedom days back fast enough. Last time I was really fast I was 16, outrunning a doorman
on the Upper East Side. He caught me vandalizing his building, not even on some artsy stuff, just … stupid. Of all the genders,
boys are the stupidest. (Laughter) Sixteen was a series of
barely getting away and never telling my parents. I assume that my son
is stewarding this tradition well. Sixteen was “The Low End Theory”
and Marvin Gaye on repeat. Sixteen is younger than Trayvon
and older than Emmett Till. At the DMV, my boy’s in line to officially
enter his prime suspect years: young, brown and behind the wheel, a moving semaphore, signaling
the threat of communities from below. On top of the food chain,
humans have no natural predator, but America plays out something
genetically embedded and instinctual in its appetite for the Black body. America guns down Black bodies
and then walks around them, bored, like laconic lions next to
half-eaten gazelles, bloody lips … “America and the Black Body”
on some Nat Geo shit. Well, he passes his road test at the DMV. He does this strut C-Walk
broken “Fortnite” thing on the way in to finish his paperwork, true joy and calibrated cool
under the eye of my filming iPhone, the victory dance of someone
who has just salvaged a draw. He’s earned this win, but he’s so 16 he can’t quite let his body be fully free. When he’s three, I’m in handcuffs in downtown Oakland. Five minutes ago, I was illegally parked. Now I’m in the back of a squad car,
considering the odds that I’m going to die here, 15 minutes away from my son
who expects that in 18 minutes, daddy’s gonna pick him up from preschool. There are no pocket-size cameras
to capture this moment, so. I learned a lot of big words
when I was 16 getting ready for the SAT, but none of them come to me now. In the police car, the only thing
that really speaks is my skin. I know this: I was parked on a bus zone
on 12th and Broadway, running to the ATM on the corner. I pull the cash out just as
a police car pulls up behind me, give him the “Aw shucks, my bad,”
that earnest Black man face. He waits till I’m back in the car
and then hits the siren, takes my license with his hand on the gun, comes back two minutes later, gun drawn,
another patrol car now, four cops now, my face on the curb,
hands behind my back, shackled. I’m angry and humiliated,
only until I’m scared and then sad. I smell like the last gasp
before my own death. I think how long the boy will wait
before he realizes that daddy is not on his way. I think his last barely
formed memory of me will be the story of how
I never came for him. I try to telepathically say goodbye. The silence brings me no peace. The quiet makes it hard to rest. In the void there is anger mushrooming
in the moss at the base of my thoughts, a fungus growing on the spine
of my freedom attempts. I’m free from all except contempt, the spirit of an unarmed civilian
in the time of civil unrest, no peace, just Marvin Gaye falsettos
arching like a broken-winged sparrow, competing against the empty sirens, singing the police. Apparently some cat from Richmond
had a warrant out on him, and when the cop says my name to dispatch,
dude doesn’t hear “Marc Joseph,” he hears “Mike Johnson.” I count seven cars and 18 cops
on the corner now, a pride around a pound of flesh. By the grace of God,
I’m not fed to the beast today. Magnanimously, the first cop
makes sure to give me a ticket for parking in a bus zone, before he sets me free. The boy is 16. He has a license to drive
in the hollow city, enough body to fill my shoes. I have grey in my beard, and it tells the truth. He can navigate traffic
in the age of autonomous vehicles. You know, people say “the talk,” like the thing happens just once, like my memory’s been erased
and my internet is broken, like I can’t read today’s martyred name, like today’s the day
that I don’t love my son enough to tell him, “Bro, I really
don’t care about your rights, yo. Your mission is to get home to me. Live to tell me the story, boy. Get home to me.” Today’s talk is mostly
happening in my head as he pulls onto the freeway
and Marvin Gaye comes on the radio. I’m wearing the boy’s shoes, and the tune in my head is the goodbye
that I almost never said, a goodbye the length of a requiem, a kiss, a whiff of his neck, the length of a revelation and a request flying high
in the friendly sky without ever leaving the ground. My pain is a walking bass line, a refrain, placated stress
against the fading baseline. Listen, this is not to be romantic, but to assert a plausible scenario
for the existential moment. Driving while Black
is its own genre of experience. Ask Marvin. It may not be the reason
why you sing like an angel, but it surely has something to do with
why heaven bends to your voice. The boy driving,
the cop in the rearview mirror is a ticket to ride or die. When you give a Black boy “the talk,” you pray he is of the faction
of the fraction that survives. You pitch him the frequency
of your telepathic goodbye, channel the love sustained
in Marvin’s upper register under his skullcap. Black music at its best is an exploded black hole responding to the call
of America at its worst. Strike us down, the music lives, dark, like tar or tobacco or cotton in muddy water. Get home to me, son. Like a love supreme, a god as love, a love overrules, feathers for the angelic lift
of the restless dead, like a theme for trouble man, or a 16-year-old boy, free to make
mistakes and live through them, grow from them, holy, holy, mercy, mercy me, mercy, mercy. Thank you. (Applause)

78 thoughts on ““You Have the Rite” | Marc Bamuthi Joseph

  1. Hi person have a great day! 😁

    And also I'm on the road to 200 subscribers…can you please pretty please with a 🍒 on top help?? ❤️❤️

  2. Great presentation, when will we ever learn. Listen closely because this is real news not fake news. Oh yeah I am a white man learning to love all mankind

  3. As a black man I have to say what the bloodclot is this? But unfortunately I have to agree. Smh

  4. 1) More whites are killed by police then blacks and that is also if adjusted for violent crime rates.
    2) It's been proven that police do not regard a person's race when they pull the trigger.

  5. That's not a Black/White thing, All good Parents worry about OUR children. Stop separating us and them!

  6. If you were that concerned by police violence why would you park in an illegal area?

  7. Had the same experience, but I'm not black. You are only feeding it by making it about skin color. Try not parking in a bus zone for starters.

  8. Ted's gonna have a terrified of the fellas raping her poet on too… right?
    I mean it's a FAR more prevalent crime than cop kill black driver is.

  9. Nowadays whenever I see a woman or a black guy in Ted, I know video will be political. And I just hit a dislike.

  10. Deep and sadly true. I have an 18yr old and 15 yr old. Both boys and I have some of the same fears… We're looked at differently. Not all law enforcement is like that, but there are places where this is still deeply rooted even if an unconscious bias.

  11. Tough stuff ..thanks
    .driving while white in Somalia is,a bullet in the head…What if we were all blind? 🙂

  12. I’m glad Tedtalk is getting political. Because politics is important, it affects everyone. Differently, but we’re all affected. And we shouldn’t ignore it.

  13. I love the prosaic expression. It is Art. Which is composed of 3 quantum components, (As I see it) First, the product. This is the Artist's expressing Some/Any Truth about the world in which (s)he perceives it, using the medium which to the artist is best suited to communicate this Truth. Second the manner in which this product (work) is made available / presented to ANY viewer. Except the creators/artist(s). Thirdly – and perhaps inseparably as important as the first, are those who are on the receiving end. The viewer, the beholder. All 3 of these MUST be present in order for a THING to qualify as ART. (IMO). This give a LOT of room for almost anything to be used for artistic expression, but for me at least, it gives definite guidelines for parameters. This affords me the knowledge and ability to determine that which is NOT Art. Having established that being said, I respect Marc's power as an artist. Credit is due. I, have but one thing which is the only issue. That is… I have absolutely ZEE ROW tolerance for what I perceive and define as "Complaining" – which to me is THEEE single WORST and most self defeating action one can Possibly take in response to an undesirable Situation. I prefer to focus on solutions. not the "problem"- Because NOTHING useful or of value comes from complaining about it. I don't want to hear it. Otherwise Awesome presentation. Thumbs up!

  14. BEAUTIFUL!!! GOD BLESS YOU!!! WHY CAN'T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG??? MY SON IS A 35 YEAR OLD GOLF PRO AND I WORRY ABOUT HIM EVERYDAY. HE MET DARIUS RUCKER PLAYING GOLF AND HE WAS SO EXCITED. I TOLD HIM DARIUS WAS PROBABLY JUST AS EXCITED TO MEET HIM KNOWING HE COULD PLAY GOLF BETTER THAN MOST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.

  15. Man I live in NOLA and we only believe in 1 race that's the human race… so please stop punishing me for other people's wrong doing. I promise I'll treat you like family it's how I was raised. So let me tell you this I met more racist black men and women by far then any other race. I been shot at for being white in the wrong neighborhood wow sounds a lot like your story right. My parents also adopted my very best friend a 6'5 33 year old man at the time oh and he is black. Don't believe me I don't hide behind a fake name I'm not hard to find. To love is to forgive and I forgive everyone that has ever hurt me and the ones who didn't mean or even know they hurt me… it's time we stand united. I fight and die for your freedoms as you for mine if it ever comes to that… black men and women fight and die for my freedom just like white men and women fight and die for my freedom. Never is it for there own freedom so wake up…

  16. Emotional delivery, but is it true? Oh wait, his Truth? Let’s all pretend to empathize because we’re afraid to look at this story critically.

  17. Yet another slanted video of propoganda! Stop perpetuating the race war. We are all humans. Period

  18. Your Race Card has been declined and the White Guilt ATM is offline…FOR GOOD! Have a nice day. MAGA!

  19. This type of racial based nonsense is making me stop watching videos. TED should be about anything but politics and pushing racism. TED, you are losing me as a viewer.

  20. Lord have mercy,such bullshit. The jew has taught the black what they mastered a couple thousand years ago, play the victim

  21. Were you Shackled, face down on the curb, after parking in the bus Zone, because you resisted?

  22. "Of all the genders, boys are the stupidest" Okay, I'm not even going to get into this. Bye.

  23. It's easier to join a gang, sell drugs and kill other gangs members than it is to get a educate yourself, get a job and work hard. Same goes for whining at the police instead of the gangsters that get make police edgy and warey. Same "kind" of people that whine too. As you can see from this vid.

  24. You are racist. You paint white people in the same colors as Hitler the Jews, msking them the root of all problems.
    I don't understand why TED supports this.

  25. ??? why…this is so sad…a second round, a third? Driving in why you have the rite?
    grow up, I've got the same crap my whole life… life has changed…slow yes…
    takes a few steps back, now and then, yes but you're not helping in making videos like this…
    this is how to fule a fire and NOT HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE…

  26. This type of thing happened to me too and I'm white. Hearing this poem made me realize that this is happening way too frequently. The black community is just the one who is exposing it. You can't throw stats at these stories and say they didn't happen. It's just a matter of time before we all come together with the same resolve.

    Let's get there together

  27. Native Americans understand. Natives are even more likely to be shot and killed than blacks by the police. The corruption started in 1492. Until we work on the foundation there will never be peace for any ethnic group in the US or Canada.

  28. "There is no difference between an Arab, Ajami, white or black, but piety."
    prophet Mohammad
    all of us human and the god created us from dust we are the same NO DIFFERENT.

  29. It is what it is & it was what it is, but is what it is & was, what it will be or not, in the *End=*FROM NOW TO ANY MOMENT IN THE FUTURE‽ Or, will the past wear a mask, emulating peace to reassert hurt, hate and a fate of fear held dear; like all "change" is relatively equal to: how much in-touch with wit, wisdom or wisdumb, that we are, and to what we all call too wrong, too weird or too Wild & Savage; as the righteous render perfect drone strikes upon another stranger, as we pray for a victory, to go down in history, with no mystery for why, so we can all live vicariously through each other's willingness to keep looking at life with blinders made of paper and plastic money, that feeds the beast called "BRAGGING RIGHTS", and tames the folks from feeling, ever restarting past's perplexing patterns of pain and disdain, with war at the fore, and peace on fire in a quagmire, looking dire, deranged, yet in some hearts unchanged‽‽ As if, by any means necessary…
    Love find it's Way, day by day, play by play, yet, as if they were Siamese twins, does Hate always wait, to tempt us at the gate of a path to a Dream, we All secretly had, but Lost on a hill made by fools believing rules, built by ghouls just selling us fuels, duels, fueds imbued with bad attitudes, as bridges to peace & hope seemingly wash away, to become ever set in a Stone Mason's Daymare-like Dream, where All BUY the FEAR & ONLY OBEY, Or TRY TO LOVE & in Loneliness Die‽ Why‽
    By Artist Eric Perry

  30. Look how many "white" men are so offended by another man sharing his experience who's not of the same race, so angry they have to share their opinions and butthurt's about the matters as if they are irrelevant…. It's quite comical… You may not agree it want to hear it. It doesn't make someone else's feelings or experiences invalid just because some don't like the topics being brought to light. The only way to let the light in is to expose the darkness to it. That not just goes for this topic but many other's not all regarding race or gender inequalities. If we keep on choosing to be blind and turn our eyes away from the ugly and it never gets looked at, it'll never be resolved. We should all be able to hear each other out regardless of race and be able to see the big picture and acknowledge each other's truths. Trying to disprove this as an issue that doesn't exist or that doesn't deserve recognition is bullshit.

  31. "Of all the genders boys are the stupidest". Dont lump us in your stupidity 😂😂😂. That was all you bruh. (Edit: Aside from above, I watched it til the end and it had me mesmerizedand in aw, my goodness).

  32. Proof that pain perpetrated upon a person's heart & mind…the kind that cracks the soul for the breadth of an entirety of eternity, whilst simultaneously making it stronger than the strongest of elementary particles that surely create & illuminate that soul, is what makes a remarkable, formidable, passionate soul.😊💖

  33. “Your body is on loan from the planet. All the countless numbers of people who have lived on this planet before you and me have all become topsoil, and so will you. This planet will collect back atom by atom what it has loaned to you.”
    ―     Jaggi Vasudev,   Midnights with the Mystic

  34. It's the American Black Man-Boy that is gunning down the black bodies. It's the black community that walks around the bodies.

  35. ted videos are totally lame and they make people stupider and keep them in the stupid box they are already in.

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