mos_def23

*Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, addressed the state of the union in “Thoughts on the Upheaval From a Global Perspective.”

He referred to the racially profiled deaths of Michael Brown, a slain black teenager from Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner, a slain father of six from Staten Island — sparking a new era Civil Rights Movement.

“Where are we? We’re at a critical time. We’re at a watershed moment for humanity,” Bey said while living in South Africa.

He added referencing Charles Dickens’s “Tale of Two Cities,” “The urgency to ‘change this miserable condition on this earth,’ as Malcolm X said, is occurring to many of us, reaffirming itself. ‘It was the best of the time, it was the worst of times.'”

“It’s the opportunity for necessary change, positive change, and it’s not necessarily convenient or comfortable as I’m sure it is with any period of growth,” he said.

He added, “I read somewhere that in order for an arrow to fly, the bow has to be drawn back. There’s some pressure involved and I think we’re all feeling that pressure.”

“Some of us are more aware of it than others. Some of us are trying to drown it out. But we all feel it one way or another, in indelible ways in these times and days,” he continued.

Bey went on to quote Max Erhmann’s 1927 poem, “Desiderata.” “We have a duty to defend our quality of life, our very lives. Do we believe in a system — an oppressive murder system — more than our ability to change it?” he asked.