“How Did We Get Here?” by Levy Lee Simon

I look around at today’s world and wonder how in the world did we get here?

Not to make myself seem old because I’m not old but I am old skool and there’s nothing wrong with that and that’s a fact.

I mean I grew up during a time when kids played outside and parents sat up late after putting dinner on the plate. When baseball, and basketball and football were an activity

not just a visual commodity or something you play on X Box 500, Madden or whatever the video game’s name’s name is. I grew up in a time where boys and girls squared off in the middle of the street when there was a beef, no guns or AKs like there are today. The best person won, you shook hands and had fun.

I mean how did we get here, after Martin and Malcolm and Huey and Bobby and H.Rap Brown and James Brown, and Attica and JFK and RK and all those that died in Viet Nam for Uncle Sam. How did we get here?

After promises of a better world, those that died, those that got fried, those that went into exile to hide, because they wanted to expose the truth. The truth that was suppose to set us free, you and me. So how did we get here?

In 2010 when we were suppose to win, with a Black President who said all the right things like it’s about change and yes we can…. can I get an Amen, elected by blacks whites, yellows and browns by a people tired of the same old sounds. It was an event a Black man is president. Yes we can! Yes we can, make a America a vision of divine destiny that can’t be denied by American historical shame called pride, yes we can turn the economy around that’s going down betrayed by needy greedy parasites of the right. And a war that’s not ours to fight.  We got a president that’s Black, now you know they were going to react. If you didn’t you got it twisted because here they come, dumb diddy dumb.

Where progress seems to have stopped and we have lost a lot, where racism and sexism and homophobism are back in style and suicide seems like the only way out for some because it stinks that bad and hurts that hard and grips that tight, like it’s not going to let go so there is only one way out.  How did we get here?

Where young kids are still being murdered on the inner cities streets by cops and by their own, who don’t know any better because they don’t know their own history, as they walk down the streets like the streets they own, their turf full of hurt, self hatred dripping from the very skin that they can’t stand to be in.

How did we get here… where marching on Washington is like a new hobby for uneducated racist hooligans, marching in the name of the American flag when it’s the America flag they are desecrating by their very own presence, and you ask them why and they tell you to your face that the president is a Muslim, like there’s something wrong with that even though it’s far from a fact.  How did we get here? Maybe take a look at eight years of a burning Bush.

How did we get here? Where it’s OK for blue bloodied Americans to disrespect the President on National TV and for others to threaten his life as if it’s all right. Funny in all my years, a decade and almost four score, I never saw or heard that before.

And some people actually thought we’d progressed to a post-racial America. LOL Laughing out loud. Is FOX TV still in America?  Can you take the spots off of a leopard? I know they are working on it, I mean they crossed a Tiger and Lion to make a 9000 pound beast called a Liger. Watch out something’s coming, next summer at a movie theatre near you.

How did we get here? A Tea Party that’s neither in Boston nor in England but maybe in your neighbor’s back yard at three. How did we get here, where people are seriously considering Sarah Palin for president, Sarah Palin is a national security threat, press eject. And that voice, come on guys forget president, could you imagine hearing that voice in the morning or at the height of sexual expression. There goes my erection.

I mean what happened to a time when people passionately fought for their rights and weren’t suckered into being scared or living in fear. We used to be a fearless country that marched in spite of all odds…. I mean we faced dogs and hoses, and red necks, and ropes, lynchings, the KKK, the national guard, the threat of communism, murder and assassination . And we stood strong and looked anybody in the eye and demanded to be heard, to be acknowledged because we were tired of the bullshit and we were real Americans godamnit.

So how did we get here, where everything seems to be so petty?  Where politicians spend millions to call each other names on TV? Aren’t we in a recession? I mean millions being spent to elect who? What? Why? Damn a commercial, I need a job. You selfish, self seeking mother .. no you can’t have my vote!

News flash.. they just got the house back… deal with that.

How did we get here? But we are here. The question I should ask next is, how do we get out?

Levy Lee Simon

© 2010



  1. lkthayer · November 12, 2010

    Levy, the power of this piece threw me against the wall, slam bam…
    “as they walk down the streets like the streets they own, their turf full of hurt, self hatred dripping from the very skin that they can’t stand to be in.”
    and on and on I could quote the brilliance of your writing. Thank you for sharing it with us and welcome to The Juice Bar! – Lisa

  2. stevie · November 12, 2010

    I must say Levy
    this is one of the most moving pieces of writing
    I have ever seen or experienced.
    It is vital alive real honest.
    THis week I saw the move
    For Colored Girls and it seems to fit in with your poem here.
    WE are in deep trouble
    asa nation and a world.
    Sometimes it seems like few are listening.
    Thank you so much for this expression
    written in a language that
    one can understand
    not hiding behind phrases or images
    but out in the open naked exposed
    hit you in the gut
    kind of emotional impact
    that is hard to grasp at one gulp
    i need to reread and read and listen
    again as the pictures fly through my head.
    Amen to this and the world is richer
    because of this beautiful stirring affirmation.
    Stephen John Kalinich

    • lkthayer · November 12, 2010

      I agree with Stevie, I need to re-read it again, because this stays with you “How Did We Get Here?” is a very big question… scary.

  3. paul mckay · November 12, 2010

    Wow. As one (white boy) who grew up playing outside and loving sports when they were child’s games played by low paid characters of real but child-like integrity, I started out getting the warms and fuzzies from this, only to get whacked by the power it was building up to. A powerful piece of work, Levy.

  4. Leslie Thayer · November 12, 2010

    Fantastic… what a powerful piece of writing with an incredible message!!

  5. Lordy · November 13, 2010

    I have always spoke out for the underdog all my life……(and paid the price) Now I feel I need to defend what I see as a very sad day at “The Juice Bar”

    For what starts off as a poem of sorts turns into a political stab at someone that is unable to put their side of “How did we get here”
    The world is changing even as you read this…We all look back with tinted glasses and think life was better growing up. We all remember the good things and forget many of the bad times…
    Is it that long ago that our past leaders went to war with smaller nations in the name of this and that.

    Two world wars and yet this man has the gall to put down Sarah Palin as a Joke….. Maybe she is and maybe she is not… But if I had the choice of sharing a cup of tea with her of George Bush then she would win hands down!!!

    I agree that the world is not as we want it, but every one of us is a tiny cog that has some responsibility in changing it.. Free speech is good, but lets not forget there is always the other side of the coin….

  6. OneHundred Blackmen OfPhiladelphia · September 28, 2011

    Well said! Please continue to articulate this through your artistry (and please consider reconnecting with Cheyney University to share this strong means of expression with the young minds there. Too often they don’t see how this can enrich their lives and those around them who feel intensely, but need help to find the words).

  7. Levy Lee Simon · September 28, 2011

    Thank you, OHBM of Philadelphia and thanks for the reminder. I do need to re-connect with Cheyney. And I’ll stay connected to you as well. Levy Lee

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