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Poetry

Hood Profet: Afro-Indigenous L.A. Poet Is Fighting An Eviction With ‘Porch Poetry’

3:36 PM PDT on July 18, 2018

    [dropcap size=big]M[/dropcap]ike Davis is a radical creator, community sancho, and curandero kid better known as Hood Profet. From the age of 13, Mike began establishing himself as a poet and activist through community organizing in Los Angeles, which helped him gain his current following of over 50,000 on Instagram and features on various platforms such as i-D, All Def Poetry, and Mitu!

    “Before I was born my mom was in church and this pastor told her she was pregnant with a prophet,” Mike says.

    This is a story he has heard since he was very young and has served as the foundation for organizing what he describes as his prophecy. He says, “My job as a poet is to make my pain, trauma, and lived experiences pretty enough for people to digest. My prophecy is utilizing those lived experiences, to help other folks navigate through life accordingly.”

    Mike Davis

    Both of Mike’s parents are Afro-Indigenous. His mother is Mexican and Salvadoran while his father is mixed with black, white, and Cherokee. Each time Mike steps into a space, he acknowledges the privilege behind his identity. “It is a privilege to only exist as a black man if I decide to,” Mike notes. “If I call myself out in a space, it’s easier for other folks to navigate and have conversations or perform a poem about privilege.”

    He says, “In the Black and Latino community, we don’t acknowledge being Afro-Indigenous. I think it’s very recent that it has been on the map. There’s this burden of having to pick one. Either you’re this or you’re that. I think that’s why I go so hard with ‘I’m black and brown’ all the time.”

    Mike is currently facing his own struggle with the continuously growing issue of gentrification in South Los Angeles. His family received an eviction notice a little over three months ago, stating they needed to evacuate their home near USC by the month of June. It did not take long before Mike learned the eviction notice was part of an illegal scare tactic, that many landlords use against people who are not completely aware of their rights.

    He says he and his family plan to move eventually, but will remain in their home until legal action takes place.

    ‘I’m black and brown all the time.’

    This transpired into the creation of Porch Poetry, an open mic event that literally takes place on the front steps of Mike’s porch. His goal is to provide a safe space for people to eat, talk, and express. It is also another avenue for Mike to raise money in case the situation with his family and their landlord escalates. “We’re still fucking here and were taking up as much space and being vocal about it,” Mike notes. “If I don’t build a consistent space that can sustain, then what am I doing for people?”

    In 2003, Mike’s mother introduced him to poetry at the age of six. She handed him a notebook where he would begin writing short stories and poems as a coping mechanism throughout his life.

    When Mike was only twelve years old, his father passed away after a fatal interaction with police. Two weeks later, he and his mom began organizing with neighbors for Community Rights Campaign, a non-profit organization fighting the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration of black/brown communities. This is when Mike realized poetry can be used as a powerful tool.

    “Helping people stems from organizing rather than my art. Without organizing, I would not have realized art is radical and would still be writing poems about myself,” he says.  

    By 2010, Mike was attending Town Hall meetings, May Day marches, and organizing meetings. “It was literally like go do a speech and do a poem. That was my shit,” he notes. “We talk a lot about all this radical shit, but it’s just so different when you’re in an org and doing the work.”

    Once Mike’s followers on Instagram started increasing, he understood the importance of educating and organizing people via social media. Mike says, “The poems were always to heal myself. This is my healing, craft, and manifestation of something bigger than me. Let me show you how to use the tools, and take them.”

    For more information, visit Mike Davis aka Hood Profet’s website. Below, an original poem:

    RELATED: Poem: 'One For Wanda' ~ In Memory of Wanda Coleman (1946-2013)

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