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Meek Mill Meets Ta-Nehisi Coates

September 29, 2018



“Mama taught you how to fight, fight

Before taught you how to write, right?

& daddy locked down in the cell, can’t kiss you night night”


Letting my students loose on lyrics from

Hip-hop artists of their picking proved

To be the key to unlocking the cryptic but convincing

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ text Between the World and Me


In North Philly local artist Meek Mill reigns supreme

Which is why I saw so many quotes

from “Stay Woke”


My students

My scholars

are teaching me how they see the world


In cities throughout the country

One does not need to travel far to see life unlike their own


The phrase

"Product of your environment"

strays from cliche

Once the facts become visible


Systematic housing segregation

Set up wealth, health,

And schools to fit outside certain areas;

Those same areas that lack are packed with police presence


Redline the section with tape.


When Coates dropped the lines

“But a society that protects some people through a safety net

Of schools, government-backed home loans, and ancestral wealth

But can only protect you with the club of criminal justice

Has either failed at enforcing its good intentions

Or has succeeded at something much darker”

Students started to put his words into context

And that made it much harder for me to sell hope.


Ta-Nehisi Coates’ eloquently writes about America

Its oppressive nature

And the need for change


So as my students stuck their headphones back in,

Turned the volume to ten

They heard the pain on the pages

Pushed from the microphones

& seen on TV


Pain that is being propelled across this country

To anyone willing to listen

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