they laugh cuz she got a boys name
but when they lace up in the back
she be in the boys game
heard she swing like one too
i mean pass like magic
shoot like kobe
go to the rack like shaq

as far as math she mad quick
halfway through the tests
she get up from her desks
the teacher be like
“Tommie check your answers
then you can quietly do something else”
in the lab she pay close attention
everybody favorite partner
in art she go wild with the
unique sense of style

but everyday in history
she got this puzzled look on her face
like the teacher be the dude
from unsolved mystery

but the rest of us love it
cuz our new teacher one of them mgawa black powa’
head piece wearin’ spitting math in
social studies class type
cats you see up and down
the ave
“ay son, don’t you wanna know
where your crown is at”

and one day he came in
and asked us just that
we all attentive,
no one ever told us that we was
more than niggas
tommie kinda light skin
they say her daddy spanish
half of us half
and we still enamoured
by the history of africa
and what went wrong
we locked in like we listening
to a kanye song, but we
learning that the white man
taught it to us
all wrong
and we hearing bout kings
and the origin of bling
and how if we would learn
then we could return

tommie slouched in the back
not sayin nothing
but she must be fuckin wit it
cuz her backpack fulla buttons
and her locker got a sticker
of a panther, and i heard
she the daughter of the sister of Malcolm
and that sticker is next to a picture of her mother
so the sticker next to a picture of a panther
but maybe she just lookin for answers
or maybe she don’t care bout black shit
cuz she think she spanish
i mean she spanish
but still be acting black
i mean
everybody but tommie
is visibly lovin this lesson
this our favorite class
i mean
we motivated and inspired
who knew the NYC board of ed
was tryna take niggas higher
with this griot they hired
the first teacher retired
the next one said some racist shit and got fired
its toward the end of the day and we usually be tired
but just when we all found our answer

she interrupt the lesson
asking questions like
‘and y we gotta be kings to get respect
and which kings are we
talking bout martin or rodney
cuz i heard the one got dropped and the other got popped

and hell
why we gotta be queens to get respect
i mean latifah had bars
and ain’t really get no spin
Freddy Mercury was from mars
ain’t no one fuckin with them
sure MC Lyte wasnt polite
but that aint no sin
cleopatra can’t be the only
relevant high femme

what if we dream too much
about the past and such
i mean
i dig black history too
im with the mathematics of the day
and knowledge of self
but we stuck in the past
talmbout gold as wealth
always talmbout Africa
we in America
talmbout kings and queens
and half us live in the jungle from what I seen
we from the Bronx, Staten, Manhattan, Kings and Queens
I cut right into B-K on the L
if I’m going to my Auntie’s
I’m on the A or C
and you know what that spell

We all laugh
she smirks too
but she not playing
Sir respectfully I really feel what you saying
but I think it’s more than Kings and Queens
I think we gotta be real
about dope fiends
I think we gotta be real
about black wealth and what it is
some of us got due dates
before we ready to raise kids
and we gotta figure it out
with or without husbands
A lot of our housing public
We all rent
folk workin two jobs
and coming home spent
Nothing destroys families
like poverty
nothing breaks up homes
like impatient Bohemoth Banks
trippin over some petty loans
crushing castles of sand
i mean

It’s more than being seen
as Kings and Queens
maybe we shouldn’t riot, but
we need loot
we need coin
we need the world to stop puttin lead in our loins
we need a new deal
that don’t demonize dealers
yes they do harm
but so does big Pharma
them the real dealers
we need to acknowledge past wrongs yes
but we also need healers
and we need math,
and we need knowledge of self

but thats a big project
especially in big projects
i think every little bit helps
and i think everyday people need basic happiness and health

cuz to be real
i mean
it goes beyond knowledge of self
i think we know who we are
i just think life’s hard
i think its bogus
to say we lost our identity
when this society loves to steal it or rent it
all over TV and internet

and i think its bogus to say we need to find ourselves
cuz when we find ourselves and ourselves are
girls proud of having boys’ names
ga’head and laugh
I mean my real name’s Tamara
but I like Tommie
it started out as a joke between
me and my mommy
but im for real
what if we find ourselves
and our selves like girls
or everything in between
our only options are some abstract concepts of being
kings or queens
i mean
folk act like its a fact in that in Africa
Queens ain’t like Queens
and that if Queens love Queens, they must hate Kings
I mean

i really feel you i do
but if royalty is our only loyalty
then you can go to BK for your birthday and get crowned
but if you really wanna rule
know you already do
how many folk do you know do how you do up in school

and if its bout knowledge of self
kings and queens
and all that
everyone in this room should reign supreme
and the world should bow
but until then we could get boogie
proceed to get down
ya know

regardless of how anyone sees us
we just need to be us
yes in one sense only we can free us
but that don’t necessarily look like anything we seen
it might be time to redefine
all that it means
to be, you know
what you said…
“kings and queens”

the whole class looked at tommie
the teacher just smiled
said he hadn’t heard that kind science
spit in a while

and ill never forget the day
tommie rocked the boat
cuz the whole time she spoke
i had a frog in my throat
as if she knew she was pullin each single tear through my eyes
hid it as hard as i tried
i mulled on her words and fell in love
i wish tommie knew that every other night
her words push me to push through crippling stage fright
or that i would name my child tommie
and that even though my kid is different
and its all been a fight
folks like tommie lemme know it’s gone all be alright

“folks like tommie” sounds crazy
cuz i’ve never met anyone else since
but i cherish it every time
her words push me to shine
and i see in myself a glimpse
of tommie.

for tommie.