By Jessica Helen Brant

Two minutes into spoken word activist Tyson Amir’s poem “Between Huey and Malcolm,” we hear the poet lay down his bottom line:

“This land is a Robert Kirkman graphic novel, for it feeds off the blood of our young.”

Tyson’s poem, the first released in his series of video poetry titled Black Boy Poems, is a rhetorically defiant work casting the fever pitch of American race relations as a real-life equivalent to The Walking Dead. The Bay area author and musician, whose father was a member of the Black Panther party and whose mother was actively involved in the black liberation movement during the 1960s, sets up a dialogue between two powerful civil rights leaders and opens it up to the rest of the country. Through his language of literature and knowledge of hip hop, Tyson speaks on his experiences as an American black man standing witness to the mechanization of a beast. Programmed to feed off class disparages, inflamed racial relations, and the compliance of capitalist agendas, the beast goes scavenging for its daily fix:

“Our appendages are the meat of fleshy mango stuck in teeth, to be plucked and sucked in moments after the feast.”

In memoriam to some of the human beings lost to police violence in America, Tyson voices his disappointment in a broken system, a system that could not and would not spare the lives of people like Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, and Walter Scott. Their battles could not be won, but their fights continues on through the work of people like Tyson:

“We can’t opt out / we can’t drop out / especially when the cops is out / that index itch you when the gun come out / we go to sleep dreaming at night wishin’ it would all run out and be replaced by something different when the sun come out.”

“Between Huey and Malcolm” is an important piece within the Black Lives Movement, which is larger than us all. For more of Black Boy Poems, subscribe to Tyson Amir’s YouTube page:


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