Last Friday I graduated from college. I have been very reflective about that day all weekend. From the moment I woke up, to the moment I walked across the stage and shook the hand of Renu Khator, to the night of drinking and listening to Yesss Bish at a strange Rice University party, I have been reflecting. 

That day I listened to a lot of music, but that morning I listened to Some How Some Way, and began crying. I did not graduate with any special honors, or extra cords or club affiliations outside of my major and minor. I did not graduate with a degree in a major that would directly result in financial safety. I did not graduate from an Ivy League. But. I did graduate as the first person in my family (on both sides) to receive a degree from a four-year university. I did graduate despite having no money to pay for my own education. I did graduate and for one moment was able to change my dad’s status as a drug dealer to a proud Black man at his firstborn’s graduation. Fuck it. For even longer than a moment. For a day. 

Some How Some Way holds such a special place in my heart. The message is simple, self-explanatory, and filled with a conviction that is so relatable. What’s crazy is that I hadn’t thought about the song in years, but thought of it the morning I was graduating as the only song out there that clearly expressed my feat. I was 11 when the Blueprint 2 came out, and doubt that the song did anything for me back then. But today it means the world. 

The narrative of understanding my dad was a drug dealer occasionally had funny moments, despite how stressful it could have been. I remember being in the car with my dad and sister, listening to this song and the lyric: "My daddy was a dopeman, so I’ma be a dope dealer”and my dad suddenly turning around from the wheel, looking sternly at me and my sister and saying “That isn’t the case.” Frequently me and my sister look back at this moment and laugh, we casually chant the lyric, its definitely on “inside joke” status. 

It had never occurred to me that my dad was potentially afraid that what was happening in his life would directly effect the way me and my siblings would grow up. And in retrospect saying that seems quite ridiculous. But. If you seen me in person you would never suspect my dad was a drug dealer, and I would have never expected his lifestyle to influence me. And perhaps it hasn’t. Ioeno.  

the first time my dad visited me and my sister’s new home/duplex, he walked around and marveled at the fact that we had windows in every single room. rather than being impressed that we’d have a significantly lower light bill as a result of never needing lights in the daytime, he instead commented on how our house had the perfect logistics to be a trap house: on the corner, front door and back door, in the hood, windows in every room, and burglar bars. this is the moment in which I realized I no longer lived in a trap house, but instead a house that was eligible to be a trap in the eyes of someone who knows the game all too well-someone who was still in the trap.

It really takes a lot to verbalize an experience that has been simultaneously acting on/being acted on by you i.e. it has taken a lot to put into words the way my dad being a drug dealer all of my life has effected me. Me and my sister just finished talking for two hours straight, and like most times when I sit and talk with my sister a number of really valuable things were stated. 

The So-Called Game

To the young people who have been exposed to or otherwise affected by the so called “Thug Life”, “Hood Life”…

Or what is drivin’ down the street in an old beat up hoopty, pickin’ up and smoking up and hopin’ you don’t get eaten up by the bullets emptied out in the backroom, video games flickering while your dealer hasn’t seen sleep in 3 weeks, shining his pistol, baby in the middle, door wide open and POP POP POP though the back window.

What is SWC? What does it mean to me? Ridin’ down the street, a body laid down with no heat. NO blood on the ground, just after opera this crime seemed unique. It wasn’t fresh it was served cold, in front of what seemed to be a normal household.

What is an OZ? 16 laid out on my coffee table each a felony for me. Why is my dealer grippin’ my wrist and pullin’ me close, remindin’ me that this is the third cost. Just for a smoke, a taste of what it felt to be free of the grasp of what we felt was babying, residue collecting and dusty flecks in the air, knowing that you’re trying to care.

I was your ages once before, so I’m not just guessing. Living and learning in my double major, case of the living. Surviving versus ideological living, dreaming and wishing you know what it was like to undo what ever hoodoo got you stuck in this, boohoo.

Cryin’ fixes nothing, that’s what my math teacher taught me. Pick up a pencil, act like its Christmas tinsel and hang around your imaginary Christmas tree. Getting gifts like light bill, water bill rent and insurance, gas bill, exterminator, knowin those bugs are a lot luckier than you or the lover now perpetrator. Tellin’ lies of how you’ll never be the female gubernator, legislator, supreme law interpretator.

Or what is, and I quote,

Gimme the loot gimme the loot!

I’m a bad bad MAN!

Where them haters at?

Ever since I could remember I been poppin’ my colla.

I’m a balla, and if you gimme ya phone numba I’ma call ya Georgia!

Tell somebody you need help in the middle of Brooklyn, how you doin?

Jockin Jockin my fresh I just kick push kick push coast through the valley of death,

I take a look at my life and it comes around Mary Mary, family matters!

Up in my hoooooood,

How do you want it?

Front back and side to side,

I’m a bad motha SHUT YO MOUTH!


Rain on meeeee.


End quote…got me speaking Swahili.

Just in case you didn’t know, that’s how you say thank you, two words leading to the solution of many things.

You young lives like mine have something greater: knowledge. The ability to read, write and do a little math. Because in this lifestyle called The Game, you will need it. You will need to know how to read when ready charges are pressed against you. Your ability to write will give you a chance to explain to your family why you’ll need money for the soap and food granted you while in jail because you had failed to abide. Or to the homies you know would like a crazy tale, while you try to find the courage to exhale beggin’ for bail. How quickly friendships turn stale.

More than anything you will need your math to devise what will become of you and your expenses in the next 20 years of your life.

Take note of your peers, who too have learned to read and write and notice their drive like yours, the skill to read right through The Game to know it is a trail to rock bottom, cotton mouth shame.

I speak nothing further from the truth to you all, and from a heart once empty…

There is nothing to gain from a game of who to blame.


Houston, TX

crack // head

I think I was eleven or twelve when I really realized what my dad’s job was. I was snooping around, looking for something. Maybe candy. Or quarters. Both my arms in the air, and on my tip-toes, I felt around on the shelf that was above my head and unexpectedly tipped a plate. The hard clunk on the head from the plate caught me off guard, and as I rubbed my head the white powder confused me. What is this on my scalp? For a brief moment I thought I had lice-which was immediately dismissed since I firmly believed black people could not get lice. I looked down to see two very strange white chunks on my feet. What is this on my feet? In retrospect the time I spent wondering seemed to last forever but in reality it must have only been a minute or two. I picked the chunks up and placed them on the plate, then pulled a chair to the shelf to put the plate back where it came from. On the shelf that the mysterious powder and chunks fell from was a razor. I had seen razors like that all over the house(es) all of my life. I came down. And understood what I had found. There would be no questions worth asking until I became twenty. 

Houston, TX