By Tef Poe
Originally published in the Riverfront Times, December 1, 2014.
Editor’s note: Tef Poe is an artist from the St. Louis area. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His project The Hero Killer was released on January 2 and was followed up this year by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For the Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get The Hero Killer here.
Dear Mr. President,
I write this letter with high hopes that it reaches you with a sober heart and a pair of open ears.
In St. Louis, our police force has a history of abusing its power while torturing black people. We have cried out for help, and your response earlier this summer basically condemned us. Like many other young people from my community, I was confused.
The police attacked us for taking to the streets to resist police brutality, and our beloved black president seemingly endorsed it. I’m sure you will say this isn’t the case, but as a young black man in America I speak for a large demographic of us that has long awaited our black president to speak in a direct tone while condemning our murders. From our perspective, the statement you made on Ferguson completely played into the racist connotations that we are violent, uneducated, welfare-recipient looters. Your remarks in support of the National Guard attacks upon us and our community devoured our dignity.
When an assault rifle is aimed at your face over nothing more than a refusal to move, you don’t feel like the American experience is one that includes you. When the president your generation selected does not condemn these attacks, you suddenly begin to believe that this system is a fraudulent hoax — and the joke is on you. Racism is very much alive in America, but as a president with so much melanin in his skin, you seem to address it very bashfully…read more.