14-year-old boy Royce Mann from Georgia delivered a performance of his poem ‘White Boy Privilege’, a raw and honest piece depicting the differences and contradictions of race biasing in the U.S. Mann, a white eight-grader, captivated audiences on his school and on the internet. The video got many users to think that, if a child can understand and preach racial integration, why on earth adults cannot.
Mann told Fusion’s Daniel Rivero through a phone interview that it was the first time he did slam poetry. Royce wanted to write the piece because he had become aware of white privilege this year, as he took a mandatory class named Race, Class and Gender, where he became passionate about the subject of racial segregation and about the unfair treatment that minorities receive when compared to white people.
“Dear everyone who isn’t a middle- or upper-class white boy, I’m sorry. I have started life at the top of a ladder while you were born on the first rung,” said Mann.
A boy well aware of racial privilege
The video was posted on the school’s Facebook account in May, gathering thousands of inspired viewers. But it seems that the video took too much force, as the account administrators could not moderate the comments section. The video was taken down, but it was uploaded back again on YouTube.
The reaction to ‘White Boy Privilege’
Mann has acted very maturely regarding the comments in his favor and those against him. He told Rivero that most of the negative comments he received did not have any real arguments behind, showing that people are prone to generalize their views. He acknowledged that, if someone tells him that they disagree with his point of view with a real argument, then he would gladly discuss the matter.
Mann has stated that he is privileged and will not give that away, as he is able to say anything without others claiming that everyone with his skin color “has a dirty mouth.” He stressed that he enjoys not having to do or look like what others expect him to, knowing that police officers will always be on his side, and not worrying about whether or not there is food on his plate. He revealed plans of writing another slam poem.
— Privilege Means (@PrivilegeMeans) July 9, 2016
The young boy’s poem has caused an uproar, especially due to the racial-biased shootings that have occurred last week. The shootings of Sterling and Castile were due to an excessive, but perhaps necessary, use of force by police, while Micah Johnson’s shooting ended the lives of five policemen from Dallas, as he revealed that he wanted to “kill white people, especially white police officers.”
Protests have sparked all over the United States, closing several important highways and even leading to a confrontation between shotgun-wielding Black Panther members and riot police. As days go by, society has become concerned about the severity of racial discrimination in the country. It is through meaningful actions like Royce Mann’s poem that the U.S. will finally understand that, although there are clear differences between races, they must be put behind when it comes to everybody’s rights as citizens.
Mann ended his poem with a verse reading: “It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.”
You can read a transcript of the poem here.
Source: CBS News