From all of us here at #DearAdultWorld, we are beyond excited to announce our first-ever scholarship winner. Throughout the summer, we have received over 150 submissions to be considered for a $1,000 educational award and publication from teens across the globe. Our editing team met and dissected every submission that we received.
The winning piece is a preformed poem called “I am…Not What You Imagine: Revelations of a Black Student” as performed by its writer Ayodele Theard-Lewis. Both a video and the written poem were submitted to us, and we are excited to showcase both on the site.
As a staff, we chose Ayodele based on her artistic merit and her focus on the theme of dear adult world. Ayodele not only created a beautiful piece of art, but challenged the institution she was performing in, challenged her classmates, and challenged me. She asked me to consider and ponder the way that I move through the world, which is why I was so excited to vote for her to be the winner of the scholarship.
The staff at #DearAdultWorld is just getting started. We have an amazing backlog of submissions from this scholarship opportunity that will be published on the site throughout the coming months. I am so excited to share these important pieces of art that came from across the globe. In the meantime, help us extend our congrats again to Ayodele. We hope that her work means as much to you as it did to us.
Calvin Ryerse, Editor-in-Chief of #DearAdultWorld
I am…Not What You Imagine: Revelations of a Black Student
I am the girl who speaks too loud but has no voice, defined from day one, I have no choice
Adorned with cornrows and hoop earrings, I’m ghetto
But, when I speak “proper” English I’m suddenly an “oreo”?
And for those that think it’s OK, “Don’t touch my hair”, it’s my motto.
I am the dark-skinned girl who will never be pretty in society’s eyes
And the light-skinned girl who is nothing but fetishized.
I am the boy with a hoodie on my head, mindin’ my own business but is still shot dead
I can only be a rapper with gold chains and a grill, or an athlete
Not a physicist, a respected academic, or a mathlete
And according to my calculations, I’m just a trend not a person
by our society’s standards
there is nothing worse than
An educated me.
The little black boy who is criminalized from birth,
The man who is not welcome in this country, on this earth.
We preach inclusivity, though it doesn’t seem to be, made for me
But, that’s not true because we’re comfortable with being uncomfortable
And, we accept everyone, Go Cards!
Lincoln High School thrives on the censorship of the ebony variety,
So this is for the Trayvon Martin’s, the Mike Brown’s, the Erics Garner’s, the Jazmine Barnes’s,
and the Sandra Bland’s for when I feel the oppression is too much and
“I can’t breathe!”
We, the people, that just want justice, who feel that at school it is just us who care about…
Our mental health
Who feel that more guns and police at this school equals another possibility for us to be killed,
and labeled as the threat.
Now that I have your ears, let’s switch gears
Ebonics: a dialect of English spoken in the American black community
I’m not your girl, your sista with an “a”, or your Queen with a “K”
I’m not your homie, homeboy, or brotha, though I did come to slay
My name is blank…and you may use it accordingly.
To those that still don’t understand, I ask: How can someone learn in a toxic environment?
I look around me, recognizing nothing and no one
I see entitlement and derogatory terms being tossed around as if they’re harmless,
But they’ve never heard the phrase “no whites allowed”.
“It’s all good”, “It’s just a song”, they say, “It doesn’t mean anything”
But, they don’t have to have “The Talk”
Not about the birds and the bees
But about how to survive the police.
They don’t understand that,
Every n-word is a shot to my soul, Bang
Just another victim.
You pretend to be an advocate, my white ally
Is it really for me though, or is it to show that you’re “down”?
You pretend to fight with me, yelling “Black Lives Matter!”
But then forget about the problem when I’m not there.
You get to step out of the shadows of injustice.
Well, I don’t have that luxury
Because my skin is a weapon that I can’t and won’t free myself of.
The gun and the target.
This poem is addressed to you.
Who is “you”.
I’ve learned about you.
The white person, Who.
Takes what they want
Who? Steals and pillages,
Rapes, and kills
But, Who writes my history books
Who says it was all ok…it’s in the past
Who, lies about the real story.
Who, has the audacity to say it never even happened, You
smile in my face
But you don’t realize that you spit when you speak.
Well, I know my history.
And it doesn’t start with you, Who,
Steals, and pillages,
Rapes, and kills
the richness of my culture, my wealth, my country
That of which you still seek.
I own it, it belongs to me.
This poem is for me, for us.
For the ones who are angry. And rightly so,
The young black children that still don’t see the dream,
Who must fight like Malcolm rather than Martin
Because they won’t listen unless…
“Licence and registration!”
Please don’t shoot.
“Put your hands up where I can see them!”
Naw homie, nevermind all that, racism is over.