Last week Mr. Spradley wrote a review of Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part I. He discusses his overall views of Lupe as well as some critiques and praises of the album. In our discussion of Lupe’s work, I told him I was thinking of doing a post on my favorite song on the album as a follow-up.

My favorite song on the album is track number two, Strange Fruition. It reminds me of a very short story I wrote entitled Strange Fruit. As I was looking over the track listing I expected to hear a rendition or sampling of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit. And as I took in the lyrics I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement with what Lupe was saying.

“Now I can’t pledge allegiance to your flag
Cause I can’t find no reconciliation with your past”

I’m a fan of history, so it’s hard for me to forget what America’s history has meant to people who look like me. That I wasn’t around for most of those slights doesn’t mean that I don’t deal with the aftermath. If you travel throughout the deep south, a lot of southern whites have a deep resentment towards “yankees” over some beef that no one was living was around to recall first hand. Losing the Civil War caused a deep wound in mind and hearts of the south. If they can’t reconcile with the past then why should I? I jokingly told my frat brother the other week that I don’t remember the pledge of allegiance. Though I recited it almost daily — for years, for the life of me, I can’t seem to remember its words. I think, unconsciously, I wanted to forget it.

“When there was nothing equal for my people in your math
You forced us in the ghetto and then you took our dads
The belly of the beast, these streets are demons’ abs
I’m telling you that setup in them sit-ups is so sad
The system is a slab”

I grew up in the DMV area and although we had a lot of low-income housing I had no idea what real housing projects were until I moved to New York. The New York City Housing Authority (NYUHA) on the surface seems righteous giving people homes where alternatively they wouldn’t be able to afford housing. Housing projects are often breeding grounds for drug sales and abuse, violence and despair. It may seem a helping hand but I can’t imagine that it’s a roundabout about way to keep minorities penned up in one place. Is it a coincidence that 97% of NYUHA’s residents are black or hispanic?

“Corruption is the swinger sittin high ridin dirty, drag racin’ into danger
And it’s so clean, pine trees smellin good
With work off in the trunk and niggas in the hood
So I can’t shed blood on any battlefield of yours?”

My dad might as well been Furious Styles. I took his advice to heart. Do you remember when Trey told Ricky that the black man has no place in the white man’s army? I appreciate the troops but like Muhammed Ali said when asked why he refused the draft “No VeitCong ever called me n*gger.” I couldn’t imagine going halfway across the world to fight another oppressed people. I grateful for the freedoms that I am afforded by those who defend our nation. Key word is “defend”. Offensive wars bother me. Another thing that irks me is the treatment that veterans face after returning from war. Even worse are those that are wounded in battle. Have you noticed how hard it is for veterans to obtain employment? Shameful.

“I pray the ugly truth comes and shatters your decor
And as it all falls down and shatters on the floor
I shed tears, I don’t know what really matters anymore
Cause I don’t know what really matters anymore”

There is a veil of lies that has been pulled over the eyes of America. This veil has been in place for so long that anyone who challenges the establishment these days are looked upon a nut jobs or conspiracy theorists. Either way they are not looked upon favorably. So many things have gone wrong with this country and we accept them at face value. We have become morally bankrupt. Minorities, women, the poor, homosexuals are treated unjustly — but as Martin Luther King Jr said once “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” The only question is once it starts bending and the ugly truth is uncovered how will we react?

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