I was raised by my Grammy an’ my Uncle

My Mummy, some cousins an’ Aunt Mae

I was raised to know just where my place was

To know what children do, what children say

I was happy, I was safe

“long as I behave

Couldn’t understand why people say I poor

‘cuz although no one had cash

An the name might not’a match

If one kitchen out’a food

You eat next door


I was raised by Mr. Huyler, Rev’rund Sands

Rod sister Betty an’ Captain Penn

An’ when I step outside the line

One back-han’ bring me back again

I was raised by my Grammy an’ my Uncle

My Mummy, Miss Espie an’ a host

Of other uncles an’ cousins an’ friends

Each one want’n me to be

A godly man, someone who’s free

To speak his mind, the kind’a man

On who they could depend


But that was before we get so fancy

We forget the famb’ly tree

Only Mummy an’ Daddy is famb’ly now

An’ the chirrun under their lock an’ key

Before you could ‘nt spank yuh own chile

‘cuz spankin’ is child abuse

Before the son think he could sue his Pa

‘cuz the law give him excuse

Before Grammy gone to the Old Folk’s Home

An’ Uncle move to Lyford Cay

Before parents start sayin’ “chile do as you please

Thas how you know yuh free”

Before teachers had to hold their hand

From the children in their care

‘cuz the parents they set out to help

Is who they have to fear


That was before we left the neighborhood

Left all our roots behind

For brand new subdivision where

Neighbors hard ta find

Before we stop teachin’ our kids

How to use their hand

Now we put them on the street-corner

Like beggars with open hand


I was raised when the famb’ly was extended

By my Grammy, Miss Eurie an’ Goddie Boy

My Mummy, some teachers an’ Uncle Fee

Teddy Lightbourne, Miss Walker

Brother Holbert, Miss Blatch

Timothy Gibson, Ted Glover an’ Uncle frien’ Roy

I want my chirrun to be raised

Knowin’ what a famb’ly is

Knowin’ what a neighbor is

Knowin’ who their people is

Just like me.


May 2009