I’m coming to this story a little late, I know, but in light of the recent tragedies of the last few weeks, it’s nice to post something inspiring. Royce Mann, an 8th grader from Atlanta, wrote and performed this slam poem as part of a school competition and ended up taking home first place. In it, he discusses the advantage white men have over women and other races, and acknowledges that even though he didn’t create the system, he still benefits from it.
“Dear women, I’m sorry. Dear black people, I’m sorry. Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who came here seeking a better life, I’m sorry,” Royce recited. “Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I’m sorry. I have started life on the top of the ladder while you were born on the first rung.”
“When I was born I had a success story already written for me. You — you were given a pen and no paper,” he continued. “I know it wasn’t us 8th-grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day.
“Dear white boys: I’m not sorry,” Royce declared. “I don’t care if you think the feminists are taking over the world, that the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bulls—. I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be. Hey white boys: It’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear. It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.”
“I know it wasn’t us eighth grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day. We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.”
And it goes on from there. Really heady stuff for such a young guy. Insightful and powerful and raw.
Watch him below.
Mann says this was the first poem he ever performed, he wrote it because he became aware of white privilege this year. “We have a class called Race, Class and Gender that everyone has to take, ” he says “and I got really passionate about how unfair it is.”
He told CNN:
“There are definitely are people who do deny that white privilege and male privilege exists and I think that’s because they choose to not see it in our world. They choose to see the progress that we have made. And a lot of kids, they learn these days, when they’re learning about the Civil Rights Movement, for example, it’s sort of put into their heads that now we’re all equal. So much progress has been made, but there’s still a long way to go.”