Mike Ellison is an incredible actor, poet, singer, and performance artist. He’s no stranger to the TEDx stage. He created this piece for the TEDxDetroit 2020 virtual edition.

They asked me to write a delightful poem
A slice of levity – you know – to lighten the moment
And normally I might condone it
But right now, homie
I’m too mad to laugh, too numb to cry
And too informed to wonder why we happen to die
And don’t hand me no crap about black-on-black crime
We all know this answer is systemic cancer
You want a pleasant distraction like I’m some tap dancer
Slathered in shoe polish ‘cause that gives you solace
Stop it. That’s awfully myopic.
If you’re of the tired of the topic
The accosted are exhausted
The pedal’s finally on a pedestal and you want us to come off it?
Come off it
We often employ joy to counteract pain
That’s how we maintain
But asking me to make you smile right now?
That’s a hell of a thing!
Allies don’t pacify, they align then amplify
The voice of dissent until recourse descends
Are you concerned with conflict?
Covid? Cops? Or content?
Marlowe [Stoudamire] is gone and y’all wanna move on?
Breonna [Taylor] is gone and y’all wanna move on?
Man, go on!
We watch with horror this state-sponsored carnage
Pray and pay homage then replay the trauma
Constantly compounded by this cortisol cartel
that swells and confounds us and now you’re dumbfounded?
Our youth go through it ‘cause there’s no way around it
Technology. Entertainment. Design. That’s fine.
Since this entity has integrity then let’s leverage everything
to effectively remedy what led me to levy a message deemed too aggressive
for those who are only as woke as a post
You want folks to get inspired? Remember Heather Heyer
And Viola Liuzzo and I don’t know about you, bro
But if it was on me…
There’d be an army of artists like Khary Turner across this
Congress ‘cause he walks it and marches… kids to college
Forget empty gestures, give up the dollars
Lift up the scholars and let’s just be honest
Rappers and pastors don’t speak for all of us
We’re all born from stardust so ain’t nobody starstruck
But we are stuck.
And we can’t move onward until justice is Garner-ed
For families in mourning and all of the fallen
I’m done talkin’.