Poet Spotlight- Aya de Leon

17 Jun

Aya de Leon is an acclaimed spoken word artist from the SF bay area. She received her BA from Harvard University and is the director of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People a program at UC Berkeley ‘for the reading, writing and the teaching of poetry’.

Icon/I have a dream

Martin Luther King fought for justice, not integration
Don’t confuse the method of transportation with the destination
But history remembers our heroes distortedly
like black & white kids holding hands is all he stood for
& completely forgets his opposition to the viet-nam war
& what’s more
his ideas are intellectual property &
if Ghandi can be an icon for apple computers, then
everything in this nation is for sale
I can just imagine what advertisers would do with
King’s letter from the birmingham jail
picture this: it gets bought by corporations in the
prison industrial complex
& they take it all out of context
putting up billboards in the hood that say:
hey young black men, MLK went to jail; if you’re
lucky, you can be next>

Or imagine this one
Let’s say the NBA buys his speech at the march on
talking about I have a team
I have a team so the sons of former slaves can sweat
and toil up and down basketball courts like modern day cotton fields
for the profit & amusement of the sons of former slave owners;
it is deeply rooted in the american dream; I have a team>

Or perhaps it would be bought by developers talking about
I have a scheme.
I have a scheme that little white yuppies can live next to
little black and brown boys and girls,
digging the convenience & flavor of their hood
& when the black & brown folks get moved out
white yuppies will say in their newly acquired hipster slang
don’t trip peeps, it’s all to the good
yes, I have a scheme
still deeply rooted in the American dream
feeling like a dij` vu, except without the smallpox blankets
& then developers can go to black church testimony meetings
talking about
I’m not here to testify
I’m here to gentrify!
can I get a witness?>

Or maybe it would be bought by a multinational
pharmaceutical conglomerate
talking about I have a cream
I have a cream & even if the red hills of georgia are
nothing compared to the acne on your face, I have a cream.
A cream that guarantees that every pockmark will be
exalted and every pimple made low, I have a cream.
I have a cream that fights against itching,
anti-government bitching and encourages snitching.
I have a cream that is spermicidal, herbicidal,
pesticidal & genocidal, I have a cream today!
I have a cream that will turn little black boys into little white girls
& we sold some to michael jackson & he said
white at last, white at last, thank god almighty I’m
white at last!
yes, people, we must be very careful who we let
control our past.


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