An Open Letter From Mos Def About Amadou Diallo

Mos-Defhoodie-225An Open letter From Mos Def…

Diallo was a West African immigrant with no prior criminal record who was shot and killed by police in the dark of night for simply being black. He was unarmed and shot at 41 times! No unarmed man should be shot at even once! One of the police officers involved in the Diallo shooting was involved in the killing of Patrick Bailey no more than a year and a half ago! Tyesha Miller was shot in her car in Los Angeles while she had a seizure! I could go on and on with the names of black people who have been killed at the hands of police just this year. But the list is so long that it would turn this letter into a statistic sheet.

Most of the people that got killed by police this year and in the past have probably been some of your fans; fans of some of your favorite artists. They are black people who love us, who defend us, who protect us, who put us in our comfortable homes an dour luxury sports utility vehicles and our well kept hotels suites and our oversized tour buses. They’re the people that buy our records, our t-shirts, our concert tickets, and so on, and so forth. They’re the same people that are getting murdered, harassed, maimed, and beaten in streets all over the world everyday!

The only people in our community who have not responded to this incident are us. Hip-Hop made one hundred billion dollars last year!… A lot of those dollars came from the ‘Comptoms’, the ‘Brooklyns’, the ‘Crown Heights’, the ‘Chicagos’, the Detroit ghettos, the St. Louis ghettos… the same ghettos where police run around literally hunting black folks to murder… then cruise the streets shortly thereafter with impunity and arrogance.

We are the Senators and the Congressmen of our communities. We come from communities that don’t have nobody to speak for them. That’s why they love us. Because we talk about what nobody else will talk about. We represent them. And they need to know that we really represent them. Not when it’s just a romantic notion or a paycheck attached to it. When something happens to them it matters to us, because when something happens to them it’s happening to us. Because Amadou Diallo is your brother, your cousin, your man… Tyesha Miller is your sister, your aunt, your girl, your wife, your daughter… All of these people are you! You are no different! And just because we’re at the top of the Billboard charts, seen on MTV daily, livin’ comfortably doesn’t mean that we can’t get shot, we can’t be harassed, we can’t be maimed and mistreated.

I hope this is as important to you as it is to me cause when I pass by the projects and when I pass by the hood I don’t see nobody but me. I see everybody who looks like me. I see me many years ago as I’m sure many of you do. So it’s time for us to come together from the ‘jiggy’ to the ‘hardcore’; from the ‘backpacker’ to the man with the Lexus and really unite and show the world that we got strength. Show the world who we are. Represent who we are. Who we really are and where we really come from. Let’s show people where our heart is… that we haven’t forgotten.

Now I’m askin’ you and anybody who looks on this letter to come forward and show your heart, to show your love, to love the people who love you back by speaking out against the injustices that they suffer. Because believe me, if the clock was turned backwards we’d be those same people.

Please stay mindful of this. Please be considerate of this letter. Pass it around! Talk about this! Think about it! Keep it on your mind because if you don’t… it’s going to keep its mind on you.

I wanna thank everybody for taking time out to read this letter. I hope I didn’t take up too much of your time. All of the contact information and other information you need to know is enclosed.

I want to wish everybody, each and everyone of ya’ll peace, prosperity and love.

Mos Def
Feb ’99

16 comments on “An Open Letter From Mos Def About Amadou Diallo

  1. I appreciate your light Mr. Bey. The veil is something seriously thick in the “black” world. If we all would just clear ourselves of the woes of this lower realm we’d ALL “activate” (I’m to think no less than ALL) and come off this place. Ships and all. I’ve seen some timelines, and I’m thinking there’s some great change coming. Whether we accept it or not.

  2. Pingback: An Open Letter From Mos Def About Amadou Diallo, 1999 - Earl Brooks

  3. A horrifying story! The more touched since I´ve got a good friend from Senegal bearing the same name! Are we really living in the times of “Change”? I´ve got severe doubts!
    Andreas Schlüter
    Berlin, Germany

  4. Pingback: Black & Blue: A Series of Events in Chicago | NIA DISPATCHES

  5. I have to say, I am not by any means a fan of hip hop simply because it is not my musical taste. I generally judge it and anything associated to hip hop as detrimental to society due to the extreme examples I see every day. I only saw this due to a link that was posted to my twitter. But this letter, this is really something. I think I might be gaining a lot more respect for the hip hop movement in the near future. I thank you for keeping this up for the world to see.

  6. I would like to see more of the celebrities from these neighborhoods move back into their neighborhoods and invest in them. If that is done, the given neighborhood will have more control of itself. Stop getting in such a hurry to spend your money where you are neither loved nor wanted.

  7. Sharon Delite. Seemingly there has beeen a lots of shooting of black people just because they are one has the right to kill or be killed but we live in a society that deems killing as just another thing. Some people tend to find a blame for all the bad things that happen within the black communiuties but what needs to be done is to take a look at what is causing this problem. I’m a black woman and sometimes where we are from or who we are,give us an automic death sentence.We sometimes falls on the created ideologies that plagues all dont get me wrong,Injustice for blacks is nothing new, and we suffer for just the very color of our skin.Injustice often comes to us because we are feared and misunderstood.We are judged, and we are dismissed as human beings.Yet we have contributed so much to the very existence of what is our society.For the police officers that are killing our black people I pray that they can take a look in the mirror and think of the turning table of life.God has a way of his justice.Remember no one is perfect but as human beings we need to know and understand that what we do today,will have a reaction for tomorrow.Have a bless day everyone.I’m so proud to see and read this letter and also seeing the responses to it.Keep up the good work.My journey for a better tomorrow have me doing my part for my very own community too.

  8. Preach Brother and let them know what time it really is. I appreciate your letter the truth hurts, I would really like to see more Star’s like you speak the truth and also take actions. Continue to do good work we need PEOPLE like you that cares…One Love

  9. Lynching of African Americans, mostly in the Southern States, was one method of keeping us in our place, of making an example. Law enforcement agencies allowed such lawlessness then by not prosecuting the criminals who murdered Blacks with mob violence. And for many years not even U.S. government took a stand against lynching. Lynching of African Americans in America was all right in “the land of the free. These days police officers do the job with immunity from prosecution and the American government refuses to take a stand. How many unarmed white “suspects” have been murdered by police officers firing forty and fifty rounds into one person? Here, in Chattanooga, TN, a white man shot and killed a Chattanooga police officer as he attempted to rob a pawn shop. He was captured and arrested at the scene. On the other side of the coin, several young Blacks, over the past couple of years have been fatally shot by Chattanooga policemen on suspicion alone. It seems that when the confrontation is with an African American the police use it as an opportunity for target practice. We have to organize our communities against this law endorsed murder. We must build a power base to pressure the status quo to make a change. And we must do it by any means necessary.

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