Where Do I Begin?

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For Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Ramarley Graham, Troy Davis, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, Chavis Carter, and the thousands of me toos howling, “Why Me?” from beyond the grave.


© 2012 Liza Jessie Peterson


Blue Black Brown Baby Buckshot Shorty-roc

melanated prince king kissed by the sun

with your solar blessed skin, sculpted like a God

Master crafted in my womb

First womb, ancient womb, safe and sacred womb

African fertile soil, Black gold diamond oil, mineral rich, mamma/ me/ her/ she /I/ we/ stirred you up good, boy

You potent powerful wonder warrior of the world

You who always had the planet head nodding to your beat

Got the globe axis leaning and tilted like your hat

Call it Black swag/ Black cool/ cat daddy funky blues/ rock jazz juke joint

Sugar shack sanctified/ negroid crunk type of/ stank umph type of

Monster 808 on the microphone check one two one two type of

Boom to the bap, the boom bap

soulful genius encoded in your DNA

Divine Nappy Archives coiled in your hair

The Creator’s rhythm love child and natural heir to planet rock

As poetry summersaults out your mouth your slang is slung around the world

What you say/ how you say it

What you wear/ how you wear it

How you do it/ urban Haiku it

It’s Showtime!

Olympic ghetto gymnastics double back flip into it, a one-handed handstand pop lock Harlem shake into a rond-de-jambe pirouette in shell toe Adidas… on crowded moving subway cars to Brooklyn… world class concrete symphonies, underground ballet for a dollar donation

You was born with it baby

An effortless magic

A planetary humanitarian gift you have given the world

to uplift rhythm-less peoples from off-beat purgatory

You who have been blessed with magic tones, sacred sound, cosmic frequency, and a spirit so thick its medicine healed us, carried us, lifted us, lit our path through dark days over troubled waters, became our golden guide rail we clung to while navigating grotesque madness, middle passage, American plantation terrorists, real life Freddy Krueger all day all nightmares

You/Me/ We spoke different languages, had different tongues, but with one anointed spirit and a holy drum, we loved and created more and more magic because we are our own antidote

Photo: Carolyn A. Butts

Photo: Carolyn A. Butts

And no matter how many of ‘em study your magic, grow more human from it, package and sell it, proclaim themselves Blacksperts on it, critique it, define it, make millions off it, feed their children’s children from it, finally realize the liberating power of it and pay you to poison it with a parade of your pathology, rewarding hungry tattooed minstrels to demonize it, then do just like they did God, colonize it…Remember Baby, this is still your shit!

So do like you always done did

Be bad

Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good,

switch-a- maroozie the shit, make fertilizer, use your secret weapon equalizer, make Black love, make Black love, make Black love, activate the magic, love who you are and how bad you be…And multiply, ‘cause the children are thirsty and the soil’s too dry

And we are in a state of emergency!

I know your spidey senses feel this

And since you have been blessed a tremendous alchemist, turn this thing around, ring a bell, spit rum, beat the drums, burn sage, shake a tambourine, roll a coconut, blow smoke, sprinkle herbs, boil a pot, take a bath, chant sing clap in the clearing, catch the ancestor spirit, call on Shango, Oya, Yemenya, Sekhmet, Heru-Ra and All them, then check your intentions and root it in love

Cause mamma/ me/ her/ she /I/ we stirred you up good

And sidebar message to the Kendrick Lamar’s, Lupe Fiasco’s and rappers who read books and create inspiring art: Keep speaking the truth, be ye unafraid to be awake: stand strong courageous warriors on the mic, hip hop aquamen swimming against lyrics of death struggling to bring forth light as corporate colonists have infiltrated our sacred art, dangling dollar-stuffed piñatas we swing at to catapult from poverty, bursting through papier mâché dreams of making it out the hood to buy mamma a house and finally escaping/ oh yeah, the money’s intoxicating but the soul pays a price as our children imitate a sick unhealthy life

This is on purpose, by design to poison the music to seep into the psyche and twist the mind, this evil strategic plan rewards the lowest of who we can sometimes be: hungry peasants, pussy popping strippers and gun toting rappers with bad knees limping for the label and not a bone in their back, how you gonna let the holy drum get hijacked using beats that are hot, with rhymes that are not, always only talking ‘bout drugs, hookers diamonds, murder, murder, death and dick, see the devil in the air using toxic radio waves to suffocate our babies and make ‘em sick!

Question: who are the gatekeepers of the playlists? Who approves the rotation of what we hear and what we see? Who tells the artist yes to “this” but no to “that”? Filtering our magic that’s good and releasing the crap? And when did life affirming hip hop become a death sentence for your career? May the ancestors embolden the bones in the backs of all the enlightened masters of the mic for not falling for it

‘Cause these are strange and dangerous times we’re living in and the enemy is fucking with our shit! We Are At WAR!

Oh! Blue Black Brown Baby Buckshot Shorty-roc

Melanated prince king kissed by the sun

Where do I begin to explain the fury you’ve faced

History books and bibles erased you

Hollywood insults, rewrites and defaces you

Cops, courts and vigilantes criminalize you, incarcerate you, murder you then blame you

Because you defy every lie your enemy has told about you

These english patients who built their self-esteem on white supremacist cockamamie false facts, broken toothpicks, twisted studies, rabid research and fantastic fibs

So how dare you have the audacity to live and survive the un-survivable, hundreds of years of insanity, rape murder torture psychic trauma, 400 years of relentless crimes against humanity, and you still shine, you still fly, still got magic?!?

These jokers just jealous! Baffled by your brilliance, your soul-force resilience and refusal to not be beat, though a little broken, scuffed up and tired, you have always been more powerful than your oppressor…as you should

‘Cause mamma/ me/ her/ she /I/ we stirred you up good, boy

You mystic master of mystery who taught the Greeks everything they know as they sat by your feet learning math, medicine, astronomy, mythology philosophy, geometry, sacred masonry and prayer, how to turn papyrus to paper and extract wisdom from trees, how nature’s the greatest teacher and supplies all your needs. You built the sphinx, temples, and colossal statues in stone that mirror your broad nose and thick lips on your face, long before telescopes you studied outer space, cosmic communicators with intergalactic alien life, science fiction was a fact, new age is old age dating back when you built landscapes of monuments perfectly designed in accordance to the stars, then you civilized Europe, this is who you truly are

Best believe they know it, but you forgot it, so this is why I write to remind you of it

I must remind you, must remind you so you never forget your strength is biblical, so outrageous so surreal sometimes it seems mythical, you are the mighty phoenix soaring from the ashes of slaves, the real life in your face resurrected God’s son

Remember how you built a Black Wall Street in Tulsa Oklahoma 1921?

And in just 12 hours it became undone, bombed by barbarians

21 Black churches/ 21 Black restaurants/ 30 Black grocery stores/ 2 Black movie theaters/ 19 black millionaires/ Black private jets/ Black hospitals/ Black schools/Black post office/ Black bus system and 3,000 Black men women and babies bombed by beasts, jealous American terrorists, jealous of you, jealous of you, hated and bombed you cause they’re jealous of all that you are, dare to be and all you have been, even in the face of insurmountable hate you still came back on top again. This creates fury and bombs to be dropped on you, 3,000 Black men women and babies slaughtered without a history book mention or national monument for this national monstrosity. Baby this country is insane, and has gone to great lengths at waging a continual campaign to destroy you, crush you, trick you, deny you, stop and frisk you, Jim Crow you, incarcerate you, demonize you, admire then ignore you, copy you, rob you, wanna be like you, pretend to ignore you, dismiss you, use you and never thank you

This is an unnatural and deadly place for you

So while you breakdance between bullets, giggle at jackals glaring from squad cars, play hide and seek with prison bounty hunters, trick or treat with terrorists, play your music real loud and run to the store for iced tea and skittles, jaywalk back to grandmas house, sell loose cigarettes, shop for a toy gun and with it in the park , we mothers pray a Harriet Tubman please make him invisible prayer, cause even though I’m afraid, I don’t want you to be scared

So I pray a hair of lambs wool/ burnt bronze/ Black Jesus/ fish frying/ walking on water/ water to wine/ multiplying/ crucifixion/ resurrection miracle prayer for you

‘cause this has been and still is a deadly place for you and where do I begin explaining the fury you will continue to face

It’s so many layers for me to explain, baby I’m exhausted by rage absorbing too much pain fighting energy bandits and my own damn depression, surfing waves of confusion and the whole wide world’s obsession with racism white supremacy, a mental illness and powerful lunacy

So remember your magic, warrior, salute your battle scars and shine, conjure your genetic memory, honor the ancestors and expect miracles, because we are our own antidote


And remember this beloved, there will always be hateful riptides but if it’s one thing I know, we know how to survive, just like we did it before, we’ll do it again with love, demonstrate love, demonstrate love

I love you wounded warrior

My beloved beautiful sunflower, dandelion lilac lotus blade of grass refusing defeat growing between the cracks of concrete because you Always find the light, you always find the light, you are the light, my

Blue Black Brown Baby Buckshot Shorty-roc

melanated prince king kissed by the sun

kissed by the sun kissed

and sculpted like a God!


Liza Jessie Peterson performing “Where Do I Begin?” at the Malcolm X Commemoration.


Liza Jessie Peterson is a renowned actress, poet, playwright, educator and advocate. Liza has written several plays including her most recent one woman play The Peculiar Patriot, which embarked on a national prison tour where she performed in over 35 jails and penitentiaries across the country. She recently performed The Peculiar Patriot, opening for Angela Davis, at Columbia University’s conference on mass incarceration. Her plays have been featured in notable theater festivals and performed in various theaters, nationally and internationally. Liza has performed on HBO’s Def Poetry.  She has shared the stage with luminaries such as Nona Hendryx, Toshi Reagon, Amiri Baraka, The Last Poets, Craig Harris, Vernon Reid, Rakim, Carl Hancock Rux and Sandra St. Victor to name just a few.


  1. WOW…WOW…WOW…A gift that has been stirred and used for the greater good. YOU ARE AMAZING AND KEEP SPEAKING!!!

  2. Speechless, talk that talk, Money!Every word more powerful than the last.

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