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Brittany Barker, performing at WoWPS 2023 in Baltimore, MD.
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I remember the first time I loaded a Clip in front of a classroom It was Brooklyn Bedstuy 10th grade ELA we study Kendrick Cole Nipsey Lauren Hill no name in the Same vein they said we could only do Shakespeare we reflected picked out the Lyrics like fish bones from the teeth of The song turned the cold classroom Monday into a warm Backyard Barbecue the Way we hug the culture tight when they Said we couldn't They told me to save my lessons for a Book club Our joy survival extracurricular our Voices only heard in their academic Storylines when muffled and margined When and picolid when Man-made and made Mule the music the Messages the magic took my students off Mute the staff thought I was giving them Bullets the way I'd send them home their Mouths loaded with something to say New Found critics with questions like why we Got more liquor stores than libraries in The hood more Starbucks than community Centers and Miss why we can't study POC For poetry waiting for the way he Metaphors and Illmatic for imagery I was Dirty in the curriculum black washing Every place they scrubbed us from Smudging and pushing margins the White Staff would enter the classroom in Suspicion check the students pockets for
The audacity was too loud could be heard From outside the classroom they'd Inspect socks and set policy that Flattened the Brown boy's high tops to Dark Caesars nothing too big to hide the Move movement in I told them the war wasn't always Physical that the mainstream murders the News Justified as self-defense were Rituals our execution spectacle graphic Violence that somehow never violates Community standards brutal footage Bleeding through their phones and Psyches for sinister reasons in my Classroom we call upon our spirits to Check our posts I hadn't known I was Arming them teaching them to find their Lifelines to stand upright in the Crooked rooms to find their faces in any Distorted mirror the classroom became a Training day before I even knew it we'd Uproar and laughter and my boss would Confuse it for gun smoke we're confused The flame of passion in our children for Wildfire [Applause]