This song is deep. If you can’t see the video, look it up in your country. It’s called “Brenda’s Got a Baby” by Tupac. The song is based on a true story. In March of 1991, The New York Times published an article about a baby who was saved by maintenance men from a trash compactor (umbilical cord still attached) where his 12-year-old mother put him. The maintenance men heard the baby’s cries and called the police—the baby was ultimately placed in Foster Care.
The girl got pregnant as a result of being raped by her cousin. The inspiration for the song came when Tupac read the story in the NYT when he was filming the movie Juice. They filmed the music video in January 1992.
This isn’t the first time Pac’s done this either. He dedicated lyrics to Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, the 11-year-old who died in Chicago and garnered National Attention (the catalyst for the tearing down of the Chicago Projects, read more about him in my post here.) And the killing of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old Black girl killed by a Korean store owner in 1992, where he dedicated the song “Keep Ya Head Up”, saying in his sophomore album, “because a bottle of juice is not something to die for.” Latasha’s death, along with the beating of Rodney King that same year, became detonators of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Like I said on this blog before, black music and television are also part of black history. I put the most powerful lyrics (in my opinion of course) of the song in bold below.
“Now Brenda’s belly is gettin’ bigger
But no one seems to notice any change in her figure
She’s 12 years old, and she’s having a baby
In love with the molester, who’s sexing her crazy
…he left her, and she had the baby solo
She had it on the bathroom floor and didn’t know so She didn’t know what to throw away and what to keep
She wrapped the baby up and threw him in the trash heap…”
The Houston Signing was excellent. It was different from my other signings. We had a small crowd but it felt more intimate and personal. What’s better than talking about self-love to a group of Black women? It reminded me of teaching and you know what they say “when you teach you learn twice.” One of the most important lessons I learned is the importance of telling our stories. I wish I had gone deeper into my background during the introduction. I think it would have added a bit more depth.
I was raised on the south side of Chicago in the Robert Taylor Projects, the largest housing project in the world and one of the poorest urban communities in the United States (second only to Cabrini Green). I’ve seen things most people only read about or watch in hood movies. I know what it’s like to grow up around drug addicts and gangs. I got my own war wounds. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been hungry. I know what it’s like to be depressed and sad. Keep Yourself Fullis not a regurgitation of the latest Social Media Self-love Guru. Keep Yourself Fullexist because I know what it’s like to feel empty.
This kind of vulnerability helps us to be more relatable with others and capable of helping people who are where we were to see living proof that overcoming is not just a word: it actually is possible. If we consider ourselves healed and whole, how did we get that way? What lessons have we learned? We didn’t always know what we know today and preaching and browbeating rarely works…
…but stories do.
Tell your story. Let people know how you got here. Stories help us to connect more with others. It humanizes us and makes people open to hearing our perspective.
When your hands are shaking so badly,
your body is an Earthquake.
When your mind is a war-zone of worry.
When uncertainty is an uninvited guest
snaking its way inside your mind
and poisoning it with doubt.
When you are weighed down by
what is not yours to carry.
When depression feels like a friend
and sadness a sister
Remind yourself that you exist.
Don’t you know purpose entered your lungs armed and ready for battle?
The universe waits for you with unparalleled patience.
A vase for your tears
An embrace for your misunderstanding.
Remember how your bones were formed and stitched together
inside someone else’s body.
Remember that you are a miracle
a divine welcome
Your mother and father’s prophecy
a spiritual alliance of their passion
their history in one body.
You are history
soil and earth
a timeless treasure.
Purpose waits for you to find the courage
to see yourself
because you exist.
You take up space
you send energy out into the world
you vibrate a frequency that someone else feels
you speak a language that someone else understands
You are the manifestation of love
And the universe commands that you jump
even when your heart is in your throat
because you are here
Have you heard? I am Soul won the Kindle Book Award for Poetry in the 8th Annual Kindle Book Award Ceremony. Because I want you to get your hands on this book without breaking the bank, I have lowered the kindle book to 99cents for a limited time. Click here to get it now.
Note: This poem is not in the book. This poem is new.
I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream music that’s not an early 2000 hit I liked before I stopped, 90s jam or real throwback but I do love me some Alicia Keys and I think her Red Table Talk was the best so far. (The only thing that had me thinking was how the song below was written in dedication to Key’s grandmother, not a man. (Though I do think about my man when I hear it lol… but that’s my point) Why is it, my mind began to think, the video doesn’t reflect that? Most people think this song is about a romantic relationship and the video further perpetuates that. I can’t help but wonder why the video doesn’t showcase the song’s intended purpose).
I’m looking forward to that Alicia and Lauryn Hill collabo! My favorite quote of the evening was:
“I don’t wanna be on nobody’s pedestal. I can just be me. I can be all my flawed, beautiful self, you be your flawed beautiful self and we just hang out and talk and sort it out.” – Alicia Keys