‘TAGGED’: A Spoken Word Video on Modern Strange Fruit

At any given moment my name could be a hashtag
A social place holder love remembrance
At any given moment my neighborhood could be a hashtag
Hashtag Jamaica Queens
Hashtag Elmont
Hashtag Brooklyn
Hashtag the Bronx
Hashtag Jersey City
At any given moment we could be the ones in tears
With milk running down our cheeks sudden smells of burning flesh
At any given moment my face could be the one
Attached to the unknown soul
Hashtag you’re it
If they gunned me down please remind the world of all my missteps
Hashtag
If they gunned me down please remind the world
of my use a foul language
Let them know I listened to trap music and gangsta rap
Let them know I illegally downloaded movies
And don’t forget that I stole basketball cards from the corner store in the ninth grade
And once wore white tees two sizes too big
And Timberland boots and hooded sweatshirts
But what is one to wear when a hoodie is removed and replaced by a coat of unarmed armor
When it’s too hot for hoods and the summer nights have reached boiling points
Thankfully there are buckets of ice water to be spilled
But unfortunately there are pints of blood also spilled
But neither will soothe the pain of tear gas
Wonderfully millions were raised
But sadly millions of questions went unanswered
And the scariest part is that no one was surprised
And maybe that’s because
so many times the words protect and serve
seem to transform into seek and destroy
And maybe that’s because bullies don’t understand logic
But they do know about bloody noses
And maybe that’s because peace and tranquility is often on sale
But one can never find the aisle for freedom
One cannot be stunned by the nights when you’re born in the shadows
Being labeled as the unknown is never a shock
One cannot be stunned by the night
Because the curfews have been set for centuries
And they always start at the crack of dawn
One cannot be stunned by the night
If when the rainbows appear you still fade to black
The veils had been removed
But the cloak of darkness has always remained
At any given moment my name could be a hashtag
But this was never about me
And this was never simply about the police
And this was never simply about the government
And this was never simply about our local communities
It extends further than any purple mountain majesty
You see we once signed a contract expecting freedom
But instead were met with exit interviews
Liberty and justice for fill in the blank
Hands up
Please don’t shoot
I cannot breath
Hands up
Reaching for strange fruits from the poplar trees

 

Published on Aug 28, 2014

This poem was inspired by the pain of young black men and women
This poem was inspired by the pain of our communities
This poem was inspired by the countless names of young brothers and sisters lost

Jeffrey Dessources a.k.a. Mr. Jeff Dess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. He is the author of three book of poetry and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Campus Life at New Jersey City University.