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‘Ode To The American Dream’: Young Protester Reflects On George Floyd’s Death


by Miguel Perez 8 Jun 2020 2:14 PM

George Floyd will be buried Tuesday in Houston, where he grew up.

His death under a Minnesota police officer’s knee has sparked days of protest over police brutality, racism and violence. Topics that 19-year-old Kobe Williams has been thinking about for years.

The graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts now studies acting at the University of Texas at Austin.

He took the mic at a Dallas City Hall protest last week to perform a spoken-word piece titled “Ode to the American Dream.” Williams first started writing the poem when he was 15 years old.

“This was a couple of years after the Trayvon Martin incident and the Mike Brown and Eric Garner incidents,” he said. “It just sparked a fire in me.”

Williams has been reworking and adding to the poem since then. He doesn’t think it’s anywhere near finished.

“I think the fact that I had to keep revising it just shows that we have a long way to go,” he said. “I think back to a quote I saw from Malcolm X, where he says ‘If you stick a knife in back six inches and pull it out four, that’s not progress. The progress is pulling the knife out fully and healing the wound.’ We haven’t even begun to pull the knife out.”

Williams stopped by KERA for an encore performance of his piece. Watch it below and listen to the radio version above.

“Ode to the American Dream” by Kobe Williams

The American Dream is to profit off of us
The only way to get em shook is to put up a fuss
Broken black bodies sharp as a knife, now we scratchin off the rust
Cuz their American Dream is to leave us face down in the dust

We lost Garner, Martin, Bland, Taylor, Floyd, & Brown
And they stay blind to them freakin bloodhounds
That killed em
We need to break down walls,
They tryna build em
And I don’t even understand
Why y’all tryna shield him

Seems like I’m just preaching to the choir
And when them sirens go off,
All my people perspire
Cuz we know
That when it comes down to the wire
We’re the first to go

Because we’re tired of fighting a fight
With no hope of winning
We can’t sit down, be humble
Cuz they took our humble beginnings

It’s wild, we’re a strong race
But we’re livin in fear
And you got a whole black race
Yelling in yo ear
About what’s happening out here
But you choose not to hear
You choose to sit down, drink your beer
We going pound for pound all these years
And you ignoring our tears
Until it comes to sports
And then y’all start to cheer

Watching us box,
Taking all the licks
Watching our basketball,
You sure love the Knicks
And your favorite of all, football,
You sure love them kicks
Until it comes to Kaepernick
Then you like, “Woah Woah Woah
Wait a minute”
“Is he kneeling on the field
Tryna diminish”
“Our national anthem
I ain’t gon let him finish”

Y’all are taught from birth
The sky’s the limit
While we’re taught
We can’t shine our lights, we gotta dim it
And it sho’ ain’t my parents’ fault
Mama, Daddy it’s not on you
Cuz y’all’s lights were broken
When y’all were just kids too
Even younger than me
They didn’t have no training wheels
To learn to walk on their feet
In this world
They had to take it from the rubble
And now all these new, little kids tryna fake our struggle

Pretending to be hard
When really they hide
Taking our phrases Like “catch me outside”
Taking our culture
At the drop of a dime
If you kill another black person
One more time
Imma …

Let me compose myself
I can’t be too crass
Cuz I’m walking through life
Under a magnifying glass
And if I make one wrong move
It might be over for me
So might as well leave it here
George Floyd, Rest In Peace.


Got a tip? Email Miguel Perez at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter @quillindie.

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