A poem by Jai'Nya Chinn and Kayla Alexander
How can you say “All Lives Matter” when Black lives don’t? We NEVER said only black lives matter. Black people have helped build this country just to be treated inhumanely. We cooperate, we die. We run, we die. We fight back, we die. We beg, we die. We lie down, we die. We put our hands up, we die. We mind our business, we die. We’re unarmed, we die. We’re detained, we die. Tell us, what are we supposed to do, to stay alive?
Let me give you a scenario.
If your friend is cut, are you gonna wait to give all your friends a bandaid first because all arms matter? No, you’re gonna help that friend because they are in pain because they are bleeding. If someone’s house is on fire while they are stuck inside, are you gonna make the fire department go to every other house on the block first because all houses matter? No, you aren’t because you don’t need it. White people are privileged whether they like it or not. Yes, your life can be hard and you can struggle but it will never be because of the color of your skin. You won’t ever have to look over your shoulder because of the color of your skin. You don’t have to worry about simply surviving because of the skin you were born with. But black people do! Why is it okay that we are called thugs for protesting the murder of innocent people? You don’t understand the hurt that we feel when we see someone lose their loved one because of their skin color, someone that is our color, and looks like us. And white people say “But I’m not racist” when you should be saying that you are against racism. Why do you feel the need to defend yourself and comment on things that weren’t directed at you? Is it because you feel guilty or exposed? Are you thinking racist thoughts when you’re alone at night? Is that why you feel the need to defend yourself when it’s not about you? This is a war. This is a movement. This is a revolution. All races vs Racists. If you are neutral in situations of injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressors. If you are silent it is because you do not care because you feel it doesn’t affect you which is part of the problem. You saw what everyone saw. George Floyd called out for his mama, who died 2 years before him on that exact same day. Handcuffed. Facedown. Knee on his neck. They did nothing. He begged for water. He begged for air. He begged for his life. He begged for mercy. They did nothing. His nose bled. His body trembled. He lost control of his bladder. They did nothing. He cried out “I can’t breathe” again and again. They did nothing. One last time he gasped “I CAN’T BREATHE”. They did nothing. He lost consciousness. They did nothing. A firefighter demanded they check his pulse. They did nothing. Off duty medical personnel begged them to stop. They did nothing. Deprived of oxygen. His organs screamed. His brain frantic. They did NOTHING. They watched George Floyd die. His life fading. A slow death. They did nothing. A lynching on the ground. They did nothing. For eight minutes of agony, four officers watched. He cried out for his mama. A grown man. Crying out for the woman who gave him life. As he joined her in death. And still, they did nothing. The officers deserve to be brought to justice. They deserve to rot in jail. Black is human too, remember that when you say “All lives matter”.
Certain factors in our young people's lives prevent them from reaching their full potential.
Our communities today are divided by cultural, racial and economic factors. In a local survey, young people expressed a desire to be connected to their communities while acknowledging that this is often not the case. This disconnect sows the seeds of intolerance and harms development of key social and emotional skills, including being able to communicate, learn and celebrate with others. For young people to thrive, they need safe, inclusive spaces to come together and connect.
Barriers to Learning
We all face challenges in our daily lives when stressful environmental factors build up and go unaddressed. (Think: It's difficult to read a book in a tornado.) For young people in school, any number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can make it difficult to learn and succeed. A recent survey revealed nearly 85% of youth thought they would graduate from high school; yet 1 in 5 students surveyed did not graduate in 4 years.
Lack of Access to Opportunity
Without access, there can never be equity. More than two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income students is due to lack of access to learning opportunities over the summer. Young people need access where they are (not only in the summer, but year-round) to collaborations across arts communities, schools and research in order to create a conduit for providing life-changing opportunities.
1. & 2. It Takes a Village: Making Cincinnati a Better Place for All Youth
3. Summer Can Set Kids on the Right—or Wrong—Course
THE WORDPLAY SOLUTION
WordPlay is a grassroots-founded nonprofit organization committed to building a Cincinnati where all people are connected, compassionate and empowered to access opportunities. Our innovative programs are carefully designed to spark creativity and create self-efficacy, inspiring children and teens to become lifelong learners. These reading, writing and storytelling programs take place in our community writing center, at schools and collaboration with other organizations across the city.
HAS A STORY.
From the smallest kindergartener to the tallest teen, every student who walks through WordPlay's doors has a story to tell. We want them to know that their stories are worth telling.
children & teens (ages 5 to 18) have been reached by WordPlay programs
volunteers have been trained
books have been
children & teens