Remembering Afeni Shakur: Our Own Black Shining Princess (cont.)
"People who are oppressed and exploited must use every means God gave to them to free themselves. Remember, until all of us are free, none of us are free. You have used your gifts to achieve some fame and fortune for yourselves, and think you are better than your brothers and sisters, who are cabined, cribbed, and confined in projects, ghettoes, 'hoods,' and jails. You'd better watch it. For the same forces which have allowed you to succeed and encouraged alienation from your people will one day say to you, ‘We don't need you anymore', or, 'You are getting too big. We have to cut you down to size. Then, where are you going? Back to the homies? Well, then you'd better make sure that when your homies call, you are there for them.
"The Cosmological Rhythmic Essence (CRE) is not confined to music or art. It's all over us. It shows up everywhere. It shows up on the basketball court. We could not just put the ball in the hoop and run back up the court. We had to acrobatically, rhythmically hurl ourselves into the airway above the rim, and slam dunk. We had to dribble the ball up to our opponent, then swing in behind our backs, moving it from one hand to the other. Then, almost simultaneously, leaping into the air with a twisting slam dunk; and, then go dancing or swaying rhythmically back up court. This is done without effort. Go to any park and watch a basketball game, or watch rope jumping, especially Double Dutch and you will see poetry in motion.
"Let me make this important point. When we rapped, even when we played the dozens, we were competitive. We tried to outdo each other in expressing our artistic skills. It did not turn to violence. Somewhere, and somehow, in recent times, we have allowed our creative genius and the legacy bequeathed to us from our ancestors and from God to become a bone of contention, confrontation, and death.
"Oh, God, help us! The unspeakable irony, what has been given to us to lift and save us, we have turned them into something to put us down, and kill us, causing our ancestors to turn over in their graves, our grieving loved ones to sob, and all our people to weep while our enemies make big profits and laugh all the way to the bank.
"We have done the impossible. We married our worst with the best; the hate and violence among us with the love and genius within us. We have brought hell and heaven together, and married the devil to God.
"One more word on this point: This rhythm of which I speak is not confined to music, dance, or sports. Because it is the essence of whom we are, it comes out in everything we do, even in how we relate to each other. We don't shake hands; we give skin, high fives, and low fives.
"Another reason that God gave us this CRE is to enable us to subdue and bend our purpose to extend reality. So, whatever the situation, we remain invincible and victorious. Now, we understand why we have progressed against seemingly impossible odds. The CRE kept us in touch with God, who enabled us to see it through - and, see it through with music and humor.
"With the slave master's whip on our backs, we could sing, 'Up above my head I hear music in the air.' With worn and tattered clothes on our backs and no shoes on our feet, we could sing, 'I got a robe; you got a robe, all God's children got robes. When we get to heaven, we gonna put on our robes, and shout all over God's heaven. I got shoes, you got shoes, all God's children got shoes when I get to heaven gonna put on my shoes, walk all over God's heaven.
"And, then looking at the slave masters, they continued, 'Everybody talking about heaven ain't going there.' Living in shanties on the plantation or sharecroppers field, and sometimes homeless, we could still sing, 'I've been tossed and I've been driven; got nowhere to call my own, but I been a'hearing of a city called heaven, and I been trying to make it my home.'
"Moreover, this CRE not only kept peace in our minds, joy in our hearts, music in our souls, and creativity in our spirits, but it also angered us and enraged us, as we surveyed our predicament. In this connection, James Baldwin said, 'To be Black in America, and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.' Tupac was not the first to say, 'F-- the world.' Even the Bible said, 'Love not the world neither the things that are in the world…,’ meaning the values of the dominant class or race who really controls and promotes what is important to them.
"In addition, this CRE enabled us to fight back, to make revolution. When Tupac joined our church, he said, 'I want to be a revolutionary.' When Tupac said, 'Me against the world,' he was partly wrong because it's 'us against the world,' against the demonic decadence of this society, but the CRE which inspired the 'fight back' rap Tupac was the same CRE that inspired his ancestors and all of the strugglers. Listen! 'My Lord, what a morning when the stars begin to fall. If I had my way, I’d tear this building down. Satan, your kingdom must come down.’
"Those were songs of slave days, the share-cropping/segregation times. When the racists were more open, more blatant, and more vicious, it was necessary to sing in code - our hopes and plans for freedom had to be kept in super secrecy. In more recent times, we sang, 'We shall overcome,' and Piggie, Piggie, you can go.'
Who can deny that to a perilous degree, this is a sex-obsessed, drug-intoxicated - and, I'm not referring to crack and heroin, but the pills we need to get us up, keep us going, and put us to sleep at night. It is a violent-crazed, pleasure-driven, bigoted, and materialistic society. We didn't make it that way.” Tupac didn't make it that way. The rappers didn't make it that way. The youth didn't make it that way. Unfortunately, and tragically, all too often we mirror what we hear, see, and have been taught by the larger society.
"Finally, in the name of God and in the name of our mothers and fathers, and all our people, past and present, in the name of Tupac, let us be against the world, and stop being against ourselves. Let us lay our swords and shields by the riverside and study war no more. Let us put away our Tec9's and Uzi's and make peace once and for all. Marvin Gaye asked, ‘What's going on?' If we must be competitive, let's go back to the old ways. Let's see who is the baddest rapper. Who's got the beat? Who's got the poetry? Who’s got the rhythm?
"If we rise to that challenge, we would push each other to new heights of creativity, and all of us would be the winners in every way. Across the length and breadth of this land, hearts are broken and eyes are weeping, and we ask, 'What can we give? What can we do? How shall we remember Tupac?' The greatest gift we can give to Tupac Amaru Shakur is to give ourselves to God and to each other; and, all of us individually and collectively, commit to being and doing all that we can be and do."