An Ode to He

Crossing Generations and Lines for Social Justice

By Ti’esh Harper ‘11 Guest Writer

As a Scripps senior getting ready to leave the Claremont bubble, I am going through a time of introspection and reflection. Reminiscing about my first visit to Scripps’s picturesque campus, the amazing California sun, the friends I’ve made, the things I’ve learned and the life I come from, it is difficult to make sense of the privilege I have as a college student. This experience has definitely been a source of pride for my family. But it has also distanced me from them.

In an effort to reconcile these conflicting feelings of excitement, about my hard work and eventual diploma, with my desire to teach and give back to my community, I have turned to artistic expression as a way to communicate with my family and community about the reality of our shared experience and the knowledge that I have gained in academia.

The following poem is a culmination of the power of art to cross generations, lines of privilege and my solidarity with those committed to social justice.

they tell me he’s addicted to herb scented incense

and that he’s prone to violence,

they tell me he’s lacking intelligence

and his speech don’t make sense. in the media they often fail to use his name

they call him “thug” “thief” “drug dealer” and “killer”,

they knock his hustle

and are fast to depict him pullin’ a trigger. i’m tired of hearing their bullshit antics on the news,

in my textbooks,

and on the radio,

they normalize the masses to see he as that one in the hood and in the video

they glorify his body and his culture while they deny his dignity. all of these generalizations with their negative connotations got me goin’ insane.

you see, cause the he they dismiss and defame is

my father,

my brother,

my son,

my neighbor,

my friend,

my one. and my love for he has me pondering this predicament the powers that be strive

to keep me in. where they find comfort in blaming he

i can’t help but question the system that has made it acceptable for he to be de-

graded to a rising statistic,

robbed before conception of his right to be judged by the content of his character

and not the color of his skin. let me just say for he and those that follow,

know that you’ll always have she ready to fight,

i’m down today...let’s not wait ‘til tomorrow.