It Was the Night Before Christmas

It was the night before Christmas, when all through the block
Not a gangsta was stirring, not even a cop.
The kicks were hung over telephone lines,
In hopes that the County would come through on time.

The shorties were knocked out in the back of the truck,
No money for a mo-mo, we were clean outta luck.
But moms had her braids done, and also her tips
Thugs said she was fly – all the Eses, Bloods and Crips.

We was broke and cold, but our bellies was full
And we thought Santa might show if he could get bail
Plus we had each other – that made it all right
So we fell asleep all together on a cold desert night

But the quiet in L.A. was broke – someone got caught slippin
Out in the street was the sirens straight trippin
I was up at the windshield, but my sis pulled me to the floor
“Boy, do you wanna get shot? Don’t you know where you are?”
And shining its light into our little bucket
Was it Santa? – Nah just the LAPD’s ghetto bird. Ahhhh, f**k it.

Still, I stayed peeping over palm trees and trash
And saw someone running toward where moms kept her stash
I was worried they’d take the small money we had.
I had to be brave, I was moms little man
So, I leapt from the truck in my red-footed jumper
And I covered the box hidden beneath the truck bumper.

Round the corner came two drivers, coming for me so quick,
But it wasn’t a angel and it wasn’t St Nick
They were chasing that fool, as he flew past my neck
They were driving too crazy. They was gonna cause a wreck.

And they whistled, and shouted, and called him by name!
“F**k ya hood!” I’ll kill ya, I heard one proclaim.
Some others I now saw were in a squad car
“Hold up or we’ll shoot. You won’t make it that far.”

Whether Eses, Bloods or Crips, I couldn’t quite say
But they were looking to kill, and I was right in the way
And just as they fired, the cops fired too
Little missiles of death from AKs, ninas and 22s
I ducked, but the bullets were faster than me
I felt something warm as I fell to one knee
The concrete was cold and the lights they were glaring
I heard my moms scream and saw my sisters staring

“Oh, God save this baby,” I heard someone cry

But I saw my brothers and cousins as I looked to the sky
They had all passed before me and were lighting the way
A long road of death from the streets of L.A.

Whether it was a cop or a gangsta, I still can’t be sure
All I know is that guns offer only one kind of cure
I ain’t mad or bitter, I got no one to blame
It ain’t the corrupt system or the homies looking for fame
It’s not as simple as that, not that Black and White
Not good guys and bad guys mixed up in a fight
And prisons won’t solve it, this war on the streets
To silence the violence ya can’t do it with heat
I realized this as they covered my face with the sheet

Bring love to the hood, and a legit way to make ends
Recognize that the gangstas are first sons and friends
And all the homies and shorties, we’re not a disease
We’re just little kids trying to break free

To the top of the fence on top of juvenile hall
“Break away! Break away! Break away all!”
To the top of the dome above city hall
Fly Little Homie, and never fear that you’ll fall
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the roof-tops of L.A. we all flew,
The black and brown angels who died before they grew

Ever wonder why Christmas in the hood isn’t so merry?
Not just the money that lacking, it’s the lost kids that’s so scary
Every holiday reminds people of someone they miss
Not a grandma or uncle, but some youngster’s kiss
We could stop the killing and bring peace to the block
But not with a an injunction or another cell block
And not with a blue rag, or red rag at the end of a glock
Not with cheap drugs that fill our veins up with doubt
Not with new lofts and Starbucks forcing poor people out

You know what to do, or I hope that you do
It’s not nothing mysterious or nothing new
You just have to do it – set aside all your greed
And take time to give the homies what we need
Hush to the police and the people who lead
Hush to the gangstas too angry to bleed
Listen instead to the innocents caught in the streets
And make sure to leave justice under our Christmas trees

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the Youth Justice Coalition

The YJC is working to build a youth and community-led movement to challenge L.A.’s, California’s and the nation’s addiction to incarceration. The organization is lead by youth who have been locked up or whose families are incarcerated. All of us have been to many more funerals than graduations.

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