But the fire Trump is igniting
is fueled by a country that has historically resisted black social justice
According to the American
National Election Studies, 57 percent of Americans in 1964 said
most of black people’s actions during the civil rights movement in the most
recent year were violent. Sixty-three
percent of Americans believed the civil rights movement was
moving "too fast." And a majority of Americans (58 percent) believed
that black people’s actions for the movement hurt their own cause.
And just a reminder: Two
of the key actions by civil rights activists in 1963 were the March on
Washington, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a
Dream" speech; and "Bloody Sunday," when Alabama state troopers
brutally beat peaceful protesters attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery
for their right to vote.
But Americans today share
similar attitudes toward the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to the Pew Research Center,
43 percent of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement.
A young boy takes the
stage. In a shaky voice, he says, "My name is Royce. My poem is titled,
'White Boy Privilege.'"
The video of the 14-year-old student's slam
poem at his school has gone viral in the midst of heated national discussions
regarding race and privilege.
Performed at a slam poetry competition in May
at The Paideia School in Atlanta, Royce Mann's winning poem offers a reflection
on the privilege he feels he has been automatically awarded as a result of his
being white and male.
begins with a lamentation: "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. 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."
continues, he acknowledges the barriers that those of other genders, races and
classes must confront that he is fortunate enough to avoid: "Because of my
race, I can eat at a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me to
steal the silverware. Thanks to my parents' salary I go to a school that brings
my dreams closer instead of pushing them away."
concedes that, if given the choice, he would not choose to trade places with
anyone else because "to be privileged is awesome."
As he reads
his poem, his voice grows louder and more impassioned. "It is embarrassing
that we still live in a world in which we judge another person's character by
the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes
Race, class, gender
embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but
instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they wear
and how short they must cut their hair. But most of all, it is embarrassing
that we deny this. That we claim to live in an equal country, an equal
has captured the attention of many who applauded him for being
"woke," or conscious of the ways in which racism, sexism and classism
affect society. Among those is "Empire" star Taraji P Henson, who
tweeted, "#TheTRUTH GOD BLESS THIS LITTLE BRAVE ANGEL!!!"
interview with HLN, Royce and his mother, Sheri Mann Stewart, explained that he
was staying focused on getting his message spread.
that he knew about white and male privilege for most of his life, but never
knew how prevalent it was in society until he attended a class called
"Race, Class and Gender" that opened his eyes.
refused praise, claiming, "I'm not the hero of this movement or anything.
There are definitely a lot of people who've done a lot more than me. I'm just
trying to do my part."