Voice 1: In the land of curt consolations, one that is most apparent is that Meek Mill didn’t get killt although surely that could have happened in the City of New York which garnered a recent reputation for snuffing the life out of the big man selling loosies on Long Island or the youngin confined to Rikers Island based on allegations of stealing a backpack the soul of whom was stolen from him so much so that he committed suicide. Meek Mill’s case could have been otherwise. He escaped that fate, if escape it can be called, given the rapper has been dragging the ball and chain of probation since 2009 for an incident that occurred as a teen; yet, given that the U.S. legal system, which markets in black and brown bodies, has acknowledged no change in him, no redemption; thus, the law, its judicial representatives, and police boots on the ground watch his every move coveting a new conviction and they find it when the rapper pops motorcycle wheelies on the set of a video filming. Illegal. Against the law. 2-4 years jail time. Meek didn’t get killt. He didn’t run from the cops who then took it upon themselves to feel fear and shoot him in the back. He didn’t attempt to be the “trillest” and say, “Officer, I want to let you know I have a weapon,” and then get shot. Point. Blank. He didn’t get into an argument at the liquor store and walk down the street only to get shot in the back. None of that. Meek Mill didn’t get killt.
Voice 2: On that one track Meek say, “They wanna see you in the hood back when you ain’t got shit.” That be real tho. That’s how the United States be operating on “Young Black America.”
Voice 1: Why do Blacks total forty percent of those incarcerated yet make up just thirteen percent of the U.S. population? And why are one-third of those on parole in the U.S. Black people? Black people and Brown people are disproportionately locked up. Last name from that now-gone Spanish empire that surrendered to the force of both Anglo expansion and the consequent U.S. empire? You know the one. Persona de Mexico? El Salvador? Chances of being incarcerated abundant as well. Practice a suspect religion. Accent a bit odd. Low income. Scant education. Behind bars.
Voice 2: On that one track when Meek and Thug say, “Lost so many niggas, I went crazy, I couldn’t balance it,” that be real too. Like, you lose your peeps, and you be fucked up from the pain, like dizzy and shit, everything is out of wack, the city gets bigger and it’s just you standin there and all the traffic is goin in all different directions, and the empty house cuz that person ain’t there no more, just things, things to be cleaned up and horded so you can keep them or toss others in those large plastic trash bags to be dumped into oblivion, but you never forget cuz those people be in your heart always and on your mind at the oddest moments and when you look in the mirror, you be seein that person, them people, and when you speak, you hear they voices, too.
Voice 1: The challenge is to resist a culture of violent obliviousness in a broader society that would have us forget because the forgetting is dehumanization not only of the forgotten but of ourselves. After September 11, 2001 when U.S. news networks faced the hardship of paying tribute to the souls lost in the Twin Towers, I remember looking at the scrolling photos of the deceased on the tv screen and realizing how beautiful everyday Americans were. The photos, names, occupations of the victims were portrayed uninterruptedly. Sixteen years later, in our society that increasingly shutters the finality of death as well as institutions like jails and prisons that impose forms of death on the living, we are increasingly not offered those commemorations, words from family members, the photos. Just this year with the tragic human losses in the Las Vegas Concert shooting, the Texas church shooting, the hundreds of dead in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria, we see meager mention of the victims. The corporate news media, which has few reasons to seek revolt, moves on to the next story. But as the poet says:
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
…any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Voice 2: That be trill, tho. John Donne was ride or die way back in the day. Those some good lines. It may be someone else today, your homie tomorrow, but eventually, it’s us. One of my favorites from Meek’s album is, “Relax your mind and kick your feet way up/Selling dog food tryna feed my pups.” We’re not forgetting Meek nor the many, many locked up.
Voice 1: “We Ball”?
Voice 2: Ballin.