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Chaka Mkali, also known as I Self Devine, is a musician, hip-hop emcee, racial justice trainer, graffiti artist, muralist and director of organizing and community building at the Minneapolis nonprofit Hope Community.

This piece is part of the “A Moment of Silence” project in which members of Minnesota’s theatrical, musical, artistic and literary circles reflect on this troubled summer. It can be found at blackmnvoices.com.

I see the light visuals blinding

In need of constant refinement

Every day another funeral procession

Can’t sleep in constant depression

Recession like humans is regressing

Aggression oppression I bleed weapons

All alone in an uprising

When I fall all I know is to keep climbing

I’m an old soul lean with the drum roll

Solar heat to the Arctic where it’s dumb cold

Watching wigs get peeled

Slumped over chest on the wheel

Age 16 got 6 bodies

Live video game sick shotty

The world’s unraveling

The vibration is so off balancing

On a tightrope balancing malice with

Fake love that appears to be counterfeit

Stress under pressure

Compressed under heat that a test ya

Either crack off alignment

Or rock hard like a diamond amen

Give thanks give grace

Give peace give love give praise

Here’s what I’m gonna do

Ride when drama is in front of you

When the bottom fall what ya gonna do/

Grind harder like you ‘pose ta do

Can’t be everything to everybody

But I was raised by the Black Panther party

Wattstax in and out of projects

Gang sets maniacs on deck

Bomb threats vets holding black pits

Weight benches on front lawns hood stuff

Drug raids friends catching AIDS

High deficit live to get paid

Gotta be more than this

Looking up at the sky in wonderment

Why preachers be so dogmatic

Make God racist so tragic

In the end make it what you make it

Life is way too short to be faking

I’m a see heaven cause I seen hell

In a cell with a mean smell

Reborn with a clean shell

On the grind where the fiends dwell

Stay humble build with a clean angle

In limbo with the fallen angels

Either crack off alignment

Or rock hard like a diamond amen

Give thanks give grace

Give peace give love give praise