With a title inspired by the iconic signs from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker Strike, the multi-talented J-Live‘s new single “I Am A Man (American Justice)” is an open letter to abusive police as well as their apologists and supporters. Press play and follow along with the lyrics below.
I tell you what I pledge
Allegiance to the people not the flag. The flag’ll never
Represent the people ’til we all considered equal. In the
Eyes of the law, rich or poor, officers kill
Blacks with no remorse. Then ask what we bitchin for.
And wonder why the innocent aint even snitchin’ for’em.
You just as dangerous as criminals so pick your poison.
Part of the problem that refuses to relate. Turn the
Hood to a trap very few can escape. Like the
Word that precedes it. Neighbor. But if it aint the
Cops it’s somebody else’s neighborhood watch. As the
Money turns your block from hot to the new hot
Spot. Now it’s someone else’s neighborhood. Watch how
Police get along with them. The storm troopers think the
Whole hood is truant unless it’s affluent. But
Even if you’re fluent in the language of law with
Stacks green backs you can’t reply or buy out the
Fact if you black there’s a target on your back, your
Front your side they’ll blow down the front door
Where you reside air out your ride whether
Hooptie or coup your hoodie or your suit, you’re
Ugly or your cute, a dentist or his son with a
Scholarship to hoop, Colin Powell or Snoop.
Hands on the steering wheel thrown for a loop,
Hands up wallet out screaming don’t shoot
Without even so much as an oops. Armed to the
Teeth like troops. Fully automatic.
Patrolling the warzone that we call home.
Unless I’m breaking the law, leave me the fuck alone.
How you gonna serve and protect
A beat on a street that you don’t even respect.
Confounding the cause for the effected.
Children women and men subjected to a
Stop and frisk puts pride and lives at risk. Heart
Beats on pause if not stop. And probable
Cause is probably cause we black and yawl cops.
No apologies. But apologists say
Not all police. Shh… Please! When you’re
Treated less than human by a beast, it doesn’t matter
If it’s the whole beast or nothing but the beast.
If it’s systemic, pandemic and you don’t even
Have the decency to condemn it? God damnit.
Good constable. If I was hiding
Behind the same shield I should feel responsible.
But when a black child of god is dead and your
Dead wrong. Why you only able to respond
Defensive for beating the defenseless senseless?
When we mourn and protest pursuit is relentless.
But what about pursuit of justice? What happened to the
People verses? When it’s police verses people like
Us, victims are discussed with
Disdain and disgust, fear, hate and distrust.
Hard to win hearts and minds when you
Lose’em and you break’em at the same damn time. How
Many hearts and minds and bodies are confined
Just for being indicted of the same exact crime? But
Can’t afford the kind of defense that’s unionized
Weaponized and never repents. The standards are
Doubled like sentences Like what the 4th 8th and
13th amendment is? Did you forget? Cause the
Facts don’t add up to the stats when the
Deck and dice and the dealer is loaded and
Stacked. So when I say I am a black man or
Simply I am a man. You had me at black.