LIGHTS ON AFTERSCHOOL
Lights On Afterschool
By Alayah Dunlap, age 14 from Camden, N.J.
When I reflect on my afterschool experiences I’m reminded that Writing Club gave me a space to speak freely about my oppressions and beliefs without being judged. By being in a space with other creative people who often times have different ideas from me, I’ve become able to expand my mind and see things from other people’s perspectives. My club has given me opportunities to go out and share my work with others and many say that I’ve touched their souls. It makes me proud to know that other people relate to my work and even learn from it.
Here’s my latest poem:
Black girl calm down, you don’t always have to be the center of attention
Black girl your hair is unprofessional
Black girl smile
Black girl brighten up
Black girl have confidence
Black girl nobody’s listening to you
I can’t be the center of attention when all eyes are on you
And I can’t be confident when the beauty standard is that all eyes have to be blue
I didn’t know that my ethnicity and my heritage was considered unprofessional
Maybe next time I’ll ask god to make me right
Maybe next time I can ask him to make my skin more light
But next time that won’t matter, because pretty soon you’ll be telling me that I can’t wear my hair as it naturally grows but a white girl can wear my box braids and frows
And you’ll tell me that there are plenty of white girls who would kill to have my skin
As if theirs isn’t printed on every magazine front and back
As if every model doesn’t have fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, and a body that’s paper thin
How does that make sense And then you’ll go on to tell me that white supremacy doesn’t exist
As if my skin is not the definition of inferiority in your eyes
And don’t tell me that racism never existed as if white men didn’t walk around in hoods burning every black person in sight
Dont tell me that black people weren’t hung from trees as you stripped away their dignity
And don’t tell me that Treyvon Martin wasn’t killed
For being black in the wrong clothes
Don’t tell me that EmmettTill wasn’t killed over a lie
Fresh off the lips of a white woman looking for chaos
Don’t tell me that you didn’t try to wipe away my black history several times
But you’ll try to tell me that slavery was not another mass genocide
As if millions of black men women and children didn’t lose their lives
Given the death penalty for their existence
A crime that anyone can commit
But not everyone is punished for
How can I be calm
When there’s a chance that I could be killed, just for walking out of my door
So black girl speak up, make yourself the center of attention
Black girl embrace your curls make them listen
Black girl be you
By Gregg Behr, executive director of The Grable Foundation and co-chair of Remake Learning, and Ryan Rydzewski, science and education reporter.
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When I reflect on my afterschool experiences I’m reminded that Writing Club gave me a space to speak freely about my oppressions and beliefs without being judged. By being in a space with other creative people who often times have different ideas...
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Photo courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection.
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