Dear Mama, Me Against The World.
Updated: May 14
I remember at 5 or 6 years old me and pops played tons of video games together. From Batman to Mortal Kombat to this boxing game on playstation 1. That boxing game contained the very first hip hop song that grabbed attention instantly:
Dear Mama by Tupac off his 1994 classic, Me Against The World. If you read previous blogs you probably know the deep significance this album has on my heart and mind.
With that being said, hearing this song this year on this particular Mother’s Day, it’s a lot of emotions aside from grief and sadness. A lot of love, care and vigilance is present.
Saturday morning, I asked my mom a question about vulnerability and letting people back your in life. Navigating that. She said it’s personalized and acknowledging the personal readiness to return. Lately, while I been feeling great with life in almost all aspects, there is a sense of going to great lengths to protect myself. These great lengths manifest into a cold hearted and war-ready attitude. Mom and Dad has always told me growing up, "If they don't whip your ass your ass or help pay your bills, putting food in your mouth they don't matter. Move on." Where im at in life is trying to balance the boundary and showing care to others. This is in all cases, environmental or one-on-one. The question that comes for me is responsibility. When do I become responsible for other’s demons? Being mindful of the demons I argue is a sense of care. So in other words, the peace acquired, if threatened how far one can go before it gets toxic? Or will it ever get toxic? Is there a limit?
Moms don’t like showing her emotions. Just like myself, I feel she’s at war with herself frequently. Her environment growing up, showing emotion is a potential death sentence in home life and outside of the home. I mirror that in the sense of my school environment and that neighborhood. I just had a conversation about black grief, and someone asked me about the experience of navigating a chaotic world and proceeding on as if its normal? The vigilance and paranoia. The bank down the street from my high school was robbed every two-three weeks and we was on lockdown. There were dead bodies found in cars outside the school right by the entrance gates. People got jumped, mugged etc. While in High School our CEO, Michael Piscal (a white man, and this is an all black school by the way) almost made the school go under for stealing the school's funding and gambling it away. Only been in prison for the 10 years. He was released this past year. Imagine showing emotion around that environment? I did and damn near got me expelled and put in a position where I almost took someone’s life.
I told her even though I have work at 6pm on Mother’s Day we can go out and do something. She said “no I don’t want to do anything, I didn’t make any plans… sorry I am going to be this way for awhile.” She started crying a little. I held her. I hate seeing her like this. Dad on every Mother’s Day he ensured to get mom things she always wanted. She really held it down for the entire family. Not just intermediate family, but all sides. Finished college in her 50's while I was in college. She didn't get a chance to finish at CSU Long Beach. In 2015, she finished at CSU Northridge. My grandmother, graduated the same year at Southwest Los Angeles college in her 70's.
I wonder how does mom protect her peace as she gets older? The attitude carried throughout my childhood and beginnings of adulthood was to cut off anyone immediately that is perceived to be a threat to your security. How do you protect your peace, when the threat is yourself? Just like myself, I feel moms peace is threatened by the lack of trust for others. That stems from the horrors inflicted upon by my grandfather. To this day, she still hasn’t spoken to me about how she felt about his death. September 2021. Literally when we just got done visiting him in the hospital. Not sure if she even went to the funeral. She never mentioned when it was.
My pops told me, the worst type of pain is seeing your mother go. He had a great deal of depression after she passed away two years ago. I like to imagine him and Granny is reunited. At her funeral he talked about Granny’s work ethic and hustle. Raising 5 kids on her own. Getting everything they ever wanted. The little things of walking to the store together. I remember as a kid me, granny, my cousin symphony whom passed away March 16th this year and my older sister would play The Uno card game for hours on end. She would make famous banana puddling recipe with the vanilla wafers in it.
Makes me think about my grandma on my mom’s side. She just turned 80 on May 10th. As a kid with my brothers and sister we took a walk down birch ave in Hawthorne to the donut shop. Getting us whatever kind of donuts and things we wanted. Those were so special. On those walks I kept my head down for some reason and because of that I ran into street light poles. Getting older grandma sometimes took us to school, and ended the day with frosty freezers off 118th street. When I got suspended from school during times I was fighting she would ask me, “Did you beat they ass? As long you whooped they ass. You good.” Both sides of the family are hood af. My family is the type to roll up on you unapologetically. Remember moms cussing out police officers. Rapping “fuck the police” and “the nigga ya love to hate" word for word. Quick to throw up her hood, “I grew up off 69 & san pedro! Whats good?!” Fremont High School Graduate with my pops. Same class and everything.
I feel extremely guilty because I forgot Grandma’s birthday this year. As a matter of fact damn near every year I came home from college. Just like I forgot my granny’s birthday every year. When she passed the day after my birthday, and requesting God take her life the night of mine birthday that hurt. I blamed myself. As if I was the cause of death. My busy lifestyle. The cycle repeating. Not picking up the phone.
To protect a sense of peace I been hiding myself from the world. This ain’t nothing new. I’ve always done this. Hiding myself from my family, and friends admittedly. With this new album I really want to show my mom, but I'm scared of her reaction. Now reveal what I been through. My parents never heard my music for good reason. Before my Dad passed away, Megan and myself performed our song, I Want You. First time he ever heard me rap.
There’s a quote from Audre Lorde I heard my senior year of college that will forever stick with me,
“your silence will not protect you.”
I wonder if mom hides herself from me.
Either way, i love her and accept her for who she is wholeheartedly.