This blog does not contain much writing. Today I’m using poetry to get points across. Some of you may know I’ve been an educator, author and activist, but many don’t know that I grew up in Harlem as an aspiring Hip Hop emcee. I wrote rhymes, practiced all the time, and really took it seriously. Most of my high school buddies thought I would eventually become a famous rap artist. In fact, two of my high school classmates and friends did become well-known artists. You know them as “Fatman Scoop” and “Diamond D.” But as I became older and more disenchanted with the violent and minstrel-like direction of Hip Hop, I moved away from being an emcee and evolved into more of a spoken word poet.
Please watch the video below to hear me perform my poem entitled, “This is My Thesis” or “Why the Negroes Suffer.” It provides a summarized and abbreviated sense of my political views. It is more dynamic of course, when I perform in before a crowd either at a poetry open-mic night or as an opening to a speech. Therefore, this rendition is not as dynamic or energetic, but content wise, it stills gets the points across.
In a larger sense, the poem provides a simplified but (in my opinion) valid critique of white supremacy while offering a sociological analysis of why and how Black people are oppressed, in addition to how we Black people unfortunately internal the negative messages about ourselves and contribute to our own victimization.
There are some minor uses of profanity, and I sometimes use the N word to convey meaning. Please be mindful of this if viewing at work, in a formal environment, and around young people.
I encourage you to share this on your social media networks, classroom discussions and sessions designed to develop political consciousness among young people. I also encourage you to post responses to the poem whatever they are as long as you do so respectfully, and to click the “like” button if you are so inclined. Black Consciousness and Black Power! Enjoy….
Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In 2013, he wrote “The Blueprint: A Black Student Union Handbook.” In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.”
Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.