My Apologies to North Philly


by June Wilson

North Philly, I see how they treat you
I hear what they say
The vast majority
won't go near your way
They fail to see your beauty
despite its evidence:
it's the stereotypes
that blind them
with visions of violence.
Bang, bang. They hear gun shots they say-
or is it in their minds, the tricks fear can play?
Bang, bang! I lie in my bed at peace-
it's only fireworks: no need for police!
North Philly, I apologize!-
on their behalf-
of all those who leave you, diss you-
and stray your path.
It's easy to see who wants out
no time for loyalty
no time for other people-
it's all about 'Me, me, me!'
Bang, bang. It's gunfire this time.
Shots ring into the night
A gunman is seen on the run
But soon there is only one shot heard
It's to his own head he holds his gun.
He didn't value his life.
But I don't wonder why.
Your role models leave,
your church, your grocery stores
and they dare to wonder
why Front Street has whores…
…why there's rape, murder, and crime.
They wonder, but they don't take the time
the time to see, to listen, to care-
they do as the gunman does…they run…
…right into a suburb they run
far from your city gate
with seeds of ignorance
blooming into hate
Northy Philly, I'm sorry
If only they would see
I love your people,
your parks, your el
your loud ice-cream trucks,
your noisy car alarms and church bells
One day we may just have to go
and knock on their front door
and make them recognize that YES, we ARE poor:
poor in the way we're treated
(we're sick of being dissed!)
poor in the way we're viewed
(and they wonder why we're pissed!)
I see your anguish,
your tears tagged along your walls
I feel your bondage, the oppression-
I hear your silent calls:
You want to be free.
You want people to see
you are them, and they are you-
your blood is red too.
But you know they don't care, so neither do you!
It's why you do the things that you do.
Well North Philly it's about time
time to rise and time to fly.
time to live and refuse to die.
They still may mistreat you
and mistinterpret what you say
They may still make a point
to go the other way
They may even laugh…
…but you can laugh too
and lift your voice
you know how to dance and sing.
You can rejoice,
because you not only CAN do better,
you will!
I believe in you,
now believe in yourself!
Rise, North Philly.
Rise up!
And fly, and forgive.
You've got to forgive 'they.' Forgive them for they know not what they do.

A new North Philly,
I see it…it's here…
inside me and inside you