Songs like this are often accused of glorifying war because apparently war only happens in far away countries with giant machines and bombs that destroy whole towns and villages.

But what if I told you that right where you stand, you are in the middle of war all on your own? Against the patriarchy, against womanhood, for womanhood, for freedom, against freedom, against abortion, for abortion. Everyone on this planet is fighting a thousand battles you’ll never know about, or won’t know about until it’s too late.

For me, it’s every person who called me a rat while being the real rat themselves. It’s all the women who were willing to let me be beaten, raped, tortured, for years, so that they could protect themselves first, and then eventually their own children. Because yes, that happened.

Not all of us make it out of the hood in flashy cars and fancy lives. Some of us are still here still trying to get out, with broken teeth and being all overweight, just trying to keep our heads down until we can escape the hell hole that is our lives.

But y’all don’t see that. You see me laughing at events, and on the podcast and you think life is good now. Life is 10x harder when you’re trying to live a legit life.

No more drugs, no more gangs, no more girls to laugh with even if the laughter is pretended because the sound of laughter no matter how fake doesn’t sound as lonely as silence. No more ladies to talk about books with, or men to grab me so they can pretend that I belong to them, just to send a message.

After all the dust has settled, I saw one of my rapists yesterday. The one in particular who set it up, I also saw one of the old clients from the church. I was going to roll the window down and wave, but then I saw “him” and remembered why I take taxis everywhere I go. It’s not just because my back hurts to walk up or downhill, it’s because I never want to be alone.

Every girl who sees these guys thinks that they are their freedom. I am so tired of men thinking that they can protect women better than women can, i am so tired of girls thinking men are going to be our freedom when so often they are our undoing.

Men are always going to be the thing that holds women back from being their truest most powerful self, and yet we constantly are conditioned to believe that it’s our DNA that calls to creating babies with the survival of our species. I am going to call bullshit on these studies. I think this idea that women are inherently led to men on the basis that mating with men will somehow protect our children is bullshit, designed by male scientists trying to convince women to be less of themselves.

I love these rap songs, and I love these rappers, but recently Jay-Z decided he wanted to try and get rap lyrics banned from being used in court cases, which will inevitably result in a bunch of kids going and killing each other just to say they could because if they say it in a rap song they’ll get away with it.

I’m sorry but given the way that gang culture treated me, given the shit that I had to do to ensure my safety, given the fact that I use local taxi companies like private security, tells me that I am NEVER going to be safe from the men who hear these songs and work hard to emulate what they see in these songs.

It is NOT Jay-Z, 50 Cent, or Eminem’s fault that I was raped, that’s not the point I’m trying to make. But what I am saying is if you’re going to be gangster enough to rap about the shit you do, then you should be gangster enough to own up to that shit you say in court.

The school-to-prison pipeline is absolutely real. I’ve seen it. I’ve watched a teacher tell an entire class that the reason one of our classmates was off to jail was that “something told her” she had to open his bag, even though she didn’t have permission and it was an illegal search. He still got kicked out of school because there were rolling papers in the bag, even though there was no need.

I was there when kids at school were pitted against each other by teachers who just wanted to see what we’d do, only for ME to end up with a knife around my neck. Like come on, I know shit is tough for young Black and Brown boys, but what about the girls who love these guys? What about us? Who is out there speaking our truth? Me.

Just me. I don’t know of any other woman who was or is connected to gang culture who is speaking out about the harm that these men cause, and what do I get in return? I get death threats when I go out alone to certain places, I get threats of violence, I have to pay out of pocket to protect myself because the cops think I’m crazy, and on and on it goes.

I’m tired. But no one will care until I end up famous or dead, those are my choices, and so that’s what my brain thinks I need to strive for when all I really want to do is curl up and go the fuck to sleep.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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