You said to me, “I’m better than you.” I disagreed and I puffed my chest but inside I knew, it’s true.
That’s all it took to gain my admiration. You didn’t have to prove it – I was yours. My thoughts, poisoned by your put downs, were obsessed with climbing your ladder of approval.
What can I do to be your equal? Maybe if I got a higher score, Or made friends with yours, and if they looked up to me with praise akin to how they praised you, you’d raise your chin and see me eye to eye. But you don’t and I don’t know why.
I’m better at sports, better at school, have more friends, broke more rules, made more money, traveled more too. You know what? I’m better than you!
But how can I convince you, like you did me, when my words don’t phase you at all? We don’t speak unless I call. I bet you don’t notice when the phone doesn’t ring. I sit and stare, getting madder by the minute; You should be begging for my time!
I laugh at your failures. I say you deserve it. I try hard to be perfect; waiting for you to tell me I’m worth it, because in your presence I don’t feel like a person!
A seed planted in my youth, bloomed to become my truth. Thoughts into reality, I’ve doubted me my entire life.
Years fighting your voice, only to find; it was never yours – It was mine.
It was February 2015 and I was walking through the halls of Bunker Hill Community College when I saw a flyer saying Ice T was coming to speak and tickets were free, but limited.
I was two years out of the military and close to graduating with my AA degree in English. Prior to joining the US Navy, I spent every waking moment pursuing a career in Hip Hop. Needless to say, Ice T coming to my school was a pretty big deal to me.
I got my ticket and for the rest of the week I imagined scenarios in my head of meeting Ice T, rapping for him, and him being so impressed he signed me on the spot!
I didn’t get signed, BUT I got the opportunity to rap for him and he was impressed, so I’ll take it as a win.
Have you ever felt like you made something come true just but wanting it bad enough? That’s how I felt about getting the chance to rap for Ice T. Every day until he came to speak at the school, I put it out into the universe that I was going to rap for him no matter what.
The day came. I was excited to go to school. I practiced my verse over and over. I imagined the moment the opportunity would present itself for me to rap.
I arrived early and the auditorium was already half packed. Didn’t matter. The universe had my back. I sat about mid way up, but in an isle seat (just in case he called me to the front).
He came out, we clapped, and he proceeded to give an inspiring talk about his life and some of the obstacles he overcame to get where he is today. I must admit, I was surprised at how funny he was. I’ve only known him through his rap persona and TV/film, but he was so down to earth and made me genuinely laugh.
He talked about his time in the Army before becoming a rapper and it was so cool to imagine a young Ice T, or Tracy Marrow then, serving our country and living the military life style.
His talk came to an end and his manager broke the news. Ice T was on a tight schedule so they’d only take 3 questions. My shoulder nearly popped out of the socket with how fast I threw my hand up. He didn’t even look in my direction.
I threw my hand up again and sat up straight, glaring at Ice T. He looked at me. There’s no way he didn’t see me. I thought for sure he was about to call on me, but he turned to the other side of the room and picked someone else.
This is it. The final question they’re going to allow. It was now or never. I threw my hand up, I might have even wiggled my fingers, I stared at him, trying to will him to look in my direction. However, he called on a girl in the middle section, way in the back of the room.
It was over. I was crushed. I really thought I was going to get the chance. She didn’t even have a question. She drew him a picture and asked if she could come up and give it to him. I guess asking to go up to him was technically a question. He took the artwork and marveled at it. He thanked her. Then, I heard his voice over the speakers, “I guess that technically wasn’t a question, I’ll take one more.”
Boom. He looked right at my as my hand shot up. We locked eyes. He saw me seeing him seeing me. We both knew he had to call on me. He even said, “I gotta call on the dude with the Pittsburgh hat.”
I stood up and said, “It’s Boston Bruins.”
He put both his hands on his head like, “I’m in Boston, how did I mess that up?” The room chuckled. It was a fun moment. In his defense, from where I was sitting he could only see the black and yellow colors.
Then I said, “First, I want to thank you for your service. As a fellow veteran and rapper, I was hoping I could rap for you.”
He said, “You better be good.” and someone brought me a microphone. We weren’t allowed to bring our phones to this event, but thankfully someone snuck one in and recorded this grainy video.
I was high on life. I felt like the man. After the video cuts out and the cheering stopped, Ice T told me he could tell I really rap. He was pleasantly surprised and appreciated the lyricism. Unfortunately, his manager came from behind the curtain and basically dragged him away. I wish he had just a few more minutes because I felt like he would have engaged in a conversation with me.
After he left and we were released, I stepped out of the auditorium to a group of people waiting to meet me. They took pictures and I felt like a celebrity for a moment. The girl who took the video told me she recorded it and we exchanged information so she could send it.
That was it. The next day it was as if it never happened. I arrived on campus and was a ghost again. But it didn’t matter. I got to rap for Ice T, a legend in the game, and he told me I was dope. I rode that high for a long time. I still think back on it and feel good. I was just thinking about it and that’s why I wrote this article. Thanks for reading!
I was the new kid, as usual, in a fourth grade classroom. I had already moved too many times to count and I didn’t have any friends. School was just the place I went while my mother was at work. Each school I attended was at a different level academically than the others, so I fell behind in math and science, but I had no trouble keeping up in English. I could read and write on par with the rest of the students, so I felt comfortable in my English classes.
The teacher was Mrs. Lowe. I can’t remember her face, but I remember she had short (to her chin), dark hair. She wore a dress, and was always smiling. I joined her classroom during a time when she was teaching creative writing. She had us write short stories and read them aloud in class. I wrote about a snowman in the summertime. She also had us recite poetry from memory, and write our own.
While the other students memorized the shortest poems they could find, I memorized a poem called “The Gnome” by Harry Behn.
I saw a Gnome As plain as plain Sitting on top Of a weathervane.
He was dressed like a crow In silky black feathers, And there he sat watching All kinds of weathers.
He talked like a crow too, Caw caw caw, When he told me exactly What he saw,
Snow to the north of him Sun to the south, And he spoke with a beaky Kind of a mouth.
But he wasn’t a crow, That was plain as plain ‘Cause crows never sit On a weathervane.
What I saw was simply A usual gnome Looking things over On his way home.
I spent every waking moment memorizing it until I had to present. I think we had a few days, maybe a week. As the children went up, one by one, most of them did a terrific job reciting their poems. When it was my turn, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher’s face when I successfully recited the entire poem. Looking back now, it isn’t the longest poem, but for 9 year old me, it was the longest piece of writing I’ve ever attempted to memorize.
Mrs. Lowe gave me a standing ovation, and told me how impressed she was with me. That small gesture, my first praise beyond my mother, made a huge impact on me. It only solidified when I wrote my first poem.
The Thanksgiving turkey ran away We tried to catch him everyday Up and down, left and right When we’d catch him, he would fight One day we got him, now it’s through Now we can make our Thanksgiving stew
I was so proud of this poem. I couldn’t wait to turn it in. When Mrs. Lowe read it, she gave me more praise. I had never felt so uplifted in my life. I wanted to do anything I could to make her happy and proud of me. From that day forth, I became a Poet.
I read all types of poetry, my favorites being Dr. Seuss and Shel Sylverstein.
I couldn’t wait to show Mrs. Lowe every one of my poems. Sadly, I had to move again. Poverty moved us around every few months. I’ll never forget Mrs. Lowe for what she’d done for me. I took poetry with me everywhere I went. It became my escape. My place of comfort. My friend. It helped me make sense of the world. Poetry is everything to me, and I’ll happily do it for the rest of my life.