14-Year-Old Perfectly Calls Out His Own White Privilege With Epic Poem
In May, a 14-year-old named Royce Mann delivered a poem on white privilege at a poetry jam at his private school in Atlanta Georgia, and he completely nailed it.
This young man is definitely wise beyond his years.
The poem, entitled "White Boy Privilege," outlines the ways in which white males are significantly more advantaged than minorities and women.
It's a brutally honest take on a topic many in this society are unwilling to address or even acknowledge.
Mann put it perfectly when he performed his poem, saying,
Dear women, I'm sorry. Dear black people, I'm sorry. Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come 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. I say now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the opportunity, would I? Probably not... I know it wasn't us eighth grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day. We don't notice these privileges though because they don't come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure... Dear white boys, I'm not sorry. I don't care if you think the feminists are taking over the world, or the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten a little too strong because that's bullshit. I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn't be.
Mann placed this entire concept into perspective by outlining how history placed white males at an inherent advantage. The video of his incredibly eloquent words recently went viral, after his mother uploaded it to YouTube. Given the struggles we are currently facing as a country, it's not hard to see why this resonated with so many people.
The past has consequences, and unfortunately throughout America's history, women and minorities have not enjoyed the same rights as white men.
Yes, we've made major strides toward establishing a more equal society, and yes we all have much to be proud of and celebrate.
But, the present is a product of the past, and America's past has many ugly moments.
From 1619 to 1865, human beings were enslaved on the land we now inhabit. The land we now inhabit was also violently seized from indigenous people who've either been perpetually stigmatized or ignored by the majority of America.
Less than 100 years ago, segregation was legal in this country, and women couldn't vote.
Just because we've adopted laws that are designed to make our society more tolerant and equal, does not mean we have completely eradicated the bigoted, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic sentiments that pervade this nation.
When women gained the right to vote in 1920, there were still people who woke up the day after and thought women were inferior to men -- and these people still exist.
When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, there were still people who woke up the day after and thought black people were inferior to whites -- and these people still exist.
Policy is important in terms of establishing legal protections for people, but there must also be a change in consciousness for true progress.
If you're a white male in America, people like you have always enjoyed more liberties and privileges, from this country's earliest days. The impact of this ripples through generations. Change doesn't occur overnight; it must be constantly cultivated.
White privilege is not the idea that being born white, and particularly white and male, automatically makes you successful or guarantees prosperity. It means the history of this country has created a present in which being born white means you have a decided advantage over others in terms of both social and economic mobility.
Indeed, white privilege means the cards are far less likely to be stacked against you when you enter this world.
Acknowledging white privilege does not diminish your past accomplishments or the hard work you've put in to get to where you are now. It's akin to recognizing our childhoods impact who we are as adults.
A nation's history is like its childhood, and America's childhood was characterized by many dark chapters, the legacies of which we are still wrestling with in the present.
In many ways, we are still a very young country, and one might say we have not fully matured yet as we clearly still lack the self-awareness that comes with maturity.
There are far too many in this country who think white privilege is a myth and just another politically correct phrase perpetuated by liberals. But, white privilege is very real, and acknowledging it is important in terms of establishing a country that truly lives up to the ideals upon which it was founded: All men, and women for that matter, are created equal.
Recognizing white privilege is not about being guilty about the past, or the present, but being aware of both this country's history and how it's influenced the issues we continue to contend with.
If you still don't get it, watch the video of Mann's fantastic poem above.
Citations: 'Dear black people, I'm sorry - but I wouldn't change places with you': Teen unleashes brutally honest poem about the reality of his 'white boy privilege', furiously calling out the ways in which his life is better than minorities AND women (Daily Mail), Slavery and the Making of America (PBS)