Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His next project War Machine 2 is slated to be released June 5th and followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe
Every week in I'm Just A Rapper, Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them.
My relationship with music has made me a bit more sensitive than I would prefer to be. Our favorite songs somehow signify the signs of the times and the momentum of our society. I think about the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case on the regular. I've pondered if I should musically address this incident through song. I sat in my living room watching the Zimmerman bond hearing a few weeks ago on CNN and I can't help but think about the wasted potential affiliated with this case. I look at George Zimmerman and I feel sorry and ashamed for him. The Martin family lost a beloved son to this tragedy.
Now the Zimmermans will possibly lose their son to the judicial system. Racism is an unforgiving beast and ignorance surely adds fire to the flame which keeps it alive. There is no clear winner in this scenario -- everyone will lose. This story is a complete waste of human potential for both parties.
Growing up in St. Louis, I was faced with many decisions. The pressures of a young man growing up in impoverished neighborhoods can be intense. Should I join a gang for protection and do I smoke marijuana to fit in with my peers? The wrong decisions could open the door to death or prison. My story could have easily gone differently than it has, and my true potential would have never flourished. Trayvon didn't wake up the morning of his death with the intent to die. I personally don't believe Zimmerman was living life set upon becoming a murderer. In the blink of an eye everything can change for a person. We hope that most change is positive, but in the heat of the moment tragedy can happen.
This isn't a Zimmer pity party this is a discussion about wasted potential. As a musician I am constantly living life in fear of wasting time and living my life with a uncertain purpose. People such as Trayvon Martin die in the name of motivating us to never take a single day for granted. Some of us are guilty of living life blindly without a plan for tomorrow. We live to fulfill the dreams of other people. Day in and day out we faithfully go to work for another person's aspirations. The sum of our lives has been reduced to a very robotic form of existence. We live to work, eat, sleep -- freedom of thought is often something we take for granted. We do not cherish nor respect the power of our own potential. Imagine if you were robbed of the chance to dream about your future. For me, such a thought is frightening and unbearable. But this is indeed the reality most of us live in whether we know it or not. So here we are, struggling to climb out the abyss of self-doubt and social insecurity.
You are different than me so I will vilify you to protect myself. I could careless about your mother, your father and your children. I will allow myself to bow down to ignorance. I will not think about tomorrow and I do not care about your future. I am human but I do not feel as if all humans are members of the human family.
These are the seeds of homophobia, racism, sexism and anything else that is evil.
Trayvon never got to attend his first rap concert as an adult. He didn't get to enjoy the Arizona Tea that he purchased prior to his death. Unfortunately, this story is not unique to so many black males in Trayvons position. Young men living in a world that doesn't completely embrace them for who they are. When this is your position in the world you quickly learn to adapt or get devoured by the perceptions of others. We live in a generation of people who are seeking to maximize our potential even though many of us currently have no clue how to do so. We argue over ridiculous things like same-sex marriage as if any of us actually give a damn about marriage to begin with. We are overly consumed by worrying about the wrong things at all times. We are judgmental and often heartless about the plight and struggle of those that are different from us. We run from responsibility, point the finger at others and seldom seem to look in the mirror at ourselves. We do not connect with anything that isn't buried in ignorance and lack of education. We have taught ourselves to disregard facts and create theories based upon Facebook blurbs.
Zimmerman followed Trayvon and approached him. He says his actions were self-defense but I don't agree. I'm going to select a random teenage male in the Loop follow him with a gun and see what happens. He'll probably get a little scared and run or turn around and fight me. I'm going to pull out the gun and blow his young brains out, smoke a cigarette, wait for the cops to come, and tell them it was self defense.