Yesterday morning, as I thanked Karega Bailey via text for blessing the Strange Fruit BRC with one of the most talked about performances of the evening, he responded by letting me know something that I was unaware of. Karega told me about a young man, who grew up with him in Sacramento and was one of Karega’s guests to the BRC. According to Karega, the experience was life-changing for the young man.
“I ain’t never been around so many black people that feel this good about themselves”
“I ain’t never been around that many smart black people”
“When some of the homies get out, I gotta bring them around this type of stuff”
The young man has been subjected to the street life for a long time. Karega is working with him, talking to him, trying to show him that there are other ways to express yourself and otherwise to cope with life. For this young man to leave the BRC full of hope and inspiration to better his life, it is further proof of how special the evening was. For us to touch his life – Left Siders and guest poets alike – is what we’re in this for. Like Terry told me later, “that’s why I spit yo.” And he’s right. Stories like this are why we do what we do. Why we write, why we perform, why we strip down naked in front of friends and strangers alike, showing ourselves to be judged based on our words and delivery. It can be a thankless job full of snaps and claps but when someone approaches you with something like this, it truly brings a smile to your face and a tear to your eye.
Let’s continue to write, continue to touch lives and continue to strive to provide others with a lens to a world outside of the one that many find themselves trapped in.