a reflection by [alexis]

You wanna know what’s unfair? How we are privileged, neglected, praised and disrespected all at the same time. It’s crazy how there are problems all around us but we are happy and comfortable because it doesn’t affect us. There is a child starving to death right now somewhere but we don’t care… because it’s not us. Some people are a penny away from being broke and homeless but we don’t care because we can go home to a fridge full of food. Our parents could be one misfortune away from losing their mind and spiraling into depression. It’s also sad how a lot of us are boujee… on a budget though. Why is our pride so big that we can for once ask for help or let people know something is wrong. But we don’t care because we are to content with our lives to do so. We place the blame on everyone but who it’s supposed to be on. Some of us think we are so perfect but everyone sees our flaws. What’s also unfair is, of course, white privilege and no I’m not saying that white people really think they’re better than black people/the rest of us but I feel the need to speak on this. A young man can’t get a job because his name is De’Andre or a girl can’t even get a second look at her application because her name is Shaniya, nope too ghetto. But (don’t take offense to this) a man named Chris or a girl named Ashley at least get a chance to show why they deserve a job over the other thousand applicants. There’s another type of privilege of course, how could I forget this one: money. It’s a shame how far money could get you over hard work, dedication, or even plain talent. There’s so much wrong with people, with the world and how it works. The United States has a president who, of course, can’t have a simple conversation or meeting without doing/saying something racist, immature, or downright embarrassing. It’s sad that a white man can kill his family and get 5 years in lockup with no parole versus a black man selling drugs who gets a double or even triple that, but why? He doesn’t deserve that but no don’t believe I’m sticking up for black people because I have the same skin color. No I definitely admit us black people do dumb stuff, yes a few of us messed it up for the rest. It’s funny because I know for a fact that every black girl is not ghetto, loud and irritating and that every black man doesn’t sell dope and carry a gun around. But also, every white girl isn’t proper and intelligent and preppy, I can definitely testify on that. I’m sorry but I’m tired of this. It’s sad how some people are so stupid. It’s not about black and white anymore… it’s about plain stupidity.

a reflection by [mykailyn]

Here in America in every single state, they have a set of standards for every subject. A collection of lessons that the teachers are required to teach by the end of the term. But the greatest lessons you could ever teach us will not come from your syllabus. The greatest lessons you will ever teach us, you will not even remember. You never told us what we weren’t allowed to say. We just learned to hold our tongues. Now somewhere in America there’s a child holding a copy of “Catcher in the Rye” and there is a child holding a gun. But only one of these have been banned from their state government. And its NOT the one that can rip through flesh, it’s the one that says “Fuck you” on more pages than one. Because we must control what people say, how they think. And if they want to become the overseer of their own selves, then we’ll show them a real one. And somewhere in America, there’s a child sitting at his Mother’s computer reading the homepage of the KKK’s website that’s open to the public. But that child would have never read “To Kill a Mockingbird” because the school has banned it for its use of the “N word.” Maya Angelou is prohibited because we’re not allowed to talk about rap in school. We were taught that just because something happens, doesn’t mean it’s okay to talk about it. They build us brand new shopping malls so that we’ll forgey where we’re really standing. On the BONES of the Hispanics, on the BONES of the Native Americans, on the BONES of those who fought just to SPEAK! Trans Continental Railroad to Japanese internment camps, there are things missing from our history books. But we’re taught that it is better to be silent than to make them uncomfortable. Somewhere in America, private schools girls search for hours through boutiques to try and find the prom dress of their dreams. While kids on the Southside spend hours searching through the lost and found, because winters coming and that’s the only jacket they have. Kids are late to class for working the midnight shift, they give awards for best attendance, but not for keeping your family off the streets. Kids will call your music “ghetto,” they will tell you, “you don’t talk right,” then they’ll get in the backseat of a car with all their friends singing about how they’re “bout that life” and they’re “bad and bougie.” Somewhere in America, schools are promoting self-confidence while they whip out their scales and shout out your body fat percentage in class. While hefty girls are hiding away and the slim-fit beauties can’t help but giggle with pride. The preppy kids go thrift shopping because they think it sounds real fun. But we go because that’s all we got money for, because Momma works for the city. Momma only gets paid once a month. And even with all of that she has to deal with getting beaten to death by the man she claims she “loves.” But apparently he feels the same way. Somewhere in America, a girl is getting felt up by a grown man on the Subway. She’s still in her school uniform, and that’s part of the appeal. It’s hard to run in new socks and Mary Janes and all of her male teachers know it too. Coaches cover up star-players raping freshmen after the dance. Women are killed for rejecting dates. But God forbid I bring my girlfriend to prom. A girl is blackout drunk from the after party. Take a picture before her peers wake her. How many pencils is your sanity worth? What’s a 4.0 to a cold jury? What did you learn in class today? Don’t walk fast. Don’t speak loud. Keep your hands to yourself, keep your head down. Keep your eyes on your own paper, if you don’t know the answer, fill in “C.” Always wear earbuds when riding the bus alone. If you feel like someone’s following you, pretend you’re on the phone. A teacher never fails, only you do. Is America honest or do we just bask in sin? Because in every state in America, the greatest lessons are the ones you don’t remember learning.

a poem by [tamara]

How are some so strong
Guess I’m the weak link
At night I tend to think
Why am I here
How could I fall this far
I fell hard
But I feel nothing at all
I’ve had all of these emotions
Running through my head
From crying my heart out last night
I woke up feeling dead
I can’t seem to feel
They scars you’ve left wont heal
You mean so much to me
But the pain can’t be undone you see
I’m trying to forgive you
But open wounds are still new
Maybe time will help
But that won’t change what I felt
So I close the door
I’d rather be a loner
So I’m colder
I get chills
So I have to keep it real.

a poem by [tamara]

I woke up today drowning,
The tears are full and bounty
Bringing down my spirit
Crying so loud
My peers can’t hear me
Maybe I like to be alone
On my own
At home on the phone
Don’t stop me
From cockin’ it
Poppin it
I’m tired
Of drownin’ in it
A sea of depression
Anxiety and self-hate
I can’t seem to find the
Talent that makes me great
My head is a weight
I can’t push back up
I’m struggling to care
I wouldn’t like to be there
But I can’t leave
I pray my heart, my soul to keep
Instead of angels
I have demons
I can’t keep the light in.

a reflection by [willie]

Why must people be so irritating? I think the people at this school are turning into a serial killer. Why must people be so fake? How are you my “friend” but constantly talk about me? Why are people so dumb and inconsiderate? If you want to know if I’m a boy or a girl, ask me privately, not so loud that your dead relatives can hear you. Why are people so unclean? Its -10 outside and you’re musty. How? Why are people such bullies? I know I’m fat, but fat is back and skinny is wack. Why does every light-skinned girl think she’s cute? Why do people think braces are a fashion statement? Why does every man/boy think just because they have a gun they feel the need to shoot somebody “just cause” they want “street cred”? Why do men/boys play 2K instead of going outside and playing real basketball? Why is every rapper a so-called “gangster”? Why is every rapper a mumble rapper? Just why.

a reflection by [willie]

One huge regret I have is getting depressed after my Granny passed away. I was 8 at the time and we got the devastating phone call early Monday morning. I remember it because I didn’t go to school for the rest of the week. But I remember being sad everyday and not knowing why. I didn’t understand why I was so sad until I got older and learned what depression was. Then I realized that I was depressed. I started to gain weight, being silent, being mean. I was a hot mess. But when I turned 11 I realized she was in a better place and that I didn’t need to worry about her. I realized she didn’t have to worry about anything and she didn’t have anymore health issues. I realized that God took her for a reason. And although I miss her very much, I know she’s in a better place.

a poem by [theo]

I look at u and I weep. My feelings for u, they’re just too deep. Every time I see u cry I just can’t watch and sit by. I’m hear to listen but u won’t speak. Wen u feel down I feel weak. I want to help, but how can I? U won’t tell me so y even try? Where’s that bright, sassy girl I fell in love with? Or was that a fake front and a myth? I care too much too see u hurt, to treat urself worse than dirt. U say we’re cool but we’re not the same, we haven’t gon farther or had any gains. I’m no longer the person that can make I feel better just by a txt. Which is Wat hurts the most n gives me the wrecks. Talking is the only way we’ll grow, but we can’t do that or that other side will show. I’m scared n I feel like I’ve let u down, but shit, how can I help if u don’t make a sound. God doesn’t give us more than we can bare. We don’t have to deal with it alone, we can share. Keeping those feelings inside will eat u alive, and God do I need u alive. U r the God  knows love of my life, and because of that u don’t even have to be my wife. I will stay faithful to the end, but wen will that other side win? I feel us drifting apart, and I don’t know how to get that spark to restart. I love u more than life itself, but maybe that’s not enough. Maybe I lied to myself. Ur heading down a path of self destruction, and I don’t know how to get u the strength to refunction. U can now tell everyone but me how u feel. And now it’s feels like we’re not even real. I look at u tell others n it just pisses me off now. So all I can be like is wow. Help me help u. Tell me Wat to do and that’s Wat I’ll do. Help me help u to keep those thoughts pure, so our future will be more sure. Help me help u, so in the end we draw closer and save me too.

a poem by [mykailyn]

When black boys are born
We mothers kiss their faces
Twirl our fingers in their curls
Put them in carries on our chest
Show them to the world
Our tiny black princes
And when they start school
As early as 3
We mothers
Place huge packs on their backs
And we slowly fill them with bricks
Etched with tools
Tattooed with truths
Hoping to save them
Don’t talk back
Don’t get angry
Say yes ma’am
Say no sir
Don’t fight
Even if they hit you first
Especially if they are white
Do your best
Better than best
Be still
Work your hardest
They get a little older
And we add more
Keep your hands out of your pockets
Don’t look them in the eye
Don’t challenge
Don’t put your manhood before your life
Just get home safe
Don’t walk alone
Don’t walk with too many boys
Don’t walk towards police
Don’t walk away from police
Don’t buy candy or iced tea
Don’t put your hood up
I’ll drive you
I’ll pick you up
You can’t be free
Don’t go wandering
Come home to me
Another BRICK
They get a little older
And we add more
Understand you are a threat
Standing still
Your degrees are not a shield
Your job is not a shield
Your car makes you a target
Your nice house in a nice neighborhood
Makes you a target
Don’t put your ego before your safety
Don’t talk back
Don’t look them in the eye
Get home to your wife
Your son
Another BRICK
They weigh them down
This knowing
Of having to carry the load
Of their blackness
The world hasn’t changed
The straps just dig deeper into their skin
Their backs ache
But their souls don’t break
Our beautiful black men
When you say to me
“All lives matter”
I simply ask
“Will your son die with the world on his back?”
Because mine will

a reflection by [jada]

Why are boys so childish? Honestly that irritates me like the things we do for you is crazy. I mean if you’re a boy have you ever had your heart broken? When you break our heart it’s like we sink in the ground. It’s hard for us not to think about the person that broke our heart. Did you know you learn something every day? Today I learned that men/boys feel the same way we do. It feels physically sickening, like a slap in the face, and you can’t breathe. But what I didn’t realize is how would they feel when breaking a girl’s heart? They feel cowardly, having the feeling of being guilty and sad and angry. People really go all out like people think they’re in love but they’re not in love with you. They think about getting married, having kids, starting a YouTube, getting a dog. There are so many things I think no humans know about love.

a reflection by [jada]

Have you ever wanted to be stronger than anybody else in the world? I would if I got the chance. I would be wonderful. I would go to wrestling matches and win everything. I’m so excited how my life turned out—just being that skinny girl in school who was a nerd that got bullied. Now I run the little rascales “who’s the man I’m the man.” Haha. I love how I can hurt them and crush them like candy. Meeeee haha (when I win). It’s like taking candy fro ma baby. Oh my arm nooo, nooo, who are you, what is happening, how did you find me. I am your conscience. I am here to handle your thoughts I heard what you said. Wait, I thought my conscience wasn’t real. ME? Not real? I find that funny. But wait, how would you know that? I’m in your head duhhh. You wanted to not be known anymore and now you’re not you died in a big fight last night. Me dying because of a fight? NEVERRRRR. Yes you did your wish was granted no one knows you anymore you are back to your normal self like you were in high school NOOOO I hate my conscious.