14-Year-Old 'White Boy' Poem Is a Searing Critique of Privilege
I have started life at the top of the ladder when you started on the first rung.
Royce Mann is just your average white teenager in Atlanta, Georgia, except for one thing: he totally comprehends the complexity of white privilege and is brutally honest about it in the most beautiful way.
A video of him reading a poem he wrote, titled “White Boy Privilege,” recently went viral, accruing hundreds of thousands of views in a few weeks, and garnering lots of news coverage.
In the poem, which won him first place in his school's contest, he first acknowledges that as a white male, he’s at the top of the social ladder which is biased against minorities, women, and low-income people.
“Dear women, black people, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, immigrants who come here seeking a better life; dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper class white boy — I’m sorry,” he starts in the video above.
In his poetry he admits something the majority of the upper spectrum of privileged society is often too scared to admit or ask themselves.
“I have started life at the top of the ladder when you started on the first rung ...To be honest, I’m scared of what it would be like if I wasn’t on the top rung, if the tables were turned.”
Before you judge this kid for talking about how much he loves being a white boy wait for it … his message takes a turn at about 2:14 in the video above.
He calls out how it’s embarrassing to judge people based on chromosomes and skin color, and even more shameful when those with privilege deny the fact that we don’t live in an equal world.
Having the value of your life being decided by your skin color is not something to take lightly.
But this 14-year-old kid gets it. He, (just like Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, who stepped aside to let more women into politics) know there’s plenty of space to include those currently left out of equal opportunity when it comes to all aspects of society.
Inequality still persists throughout the United States, and much of the world when it comes to race, gender, income. If this 14-year-old white boy is brave enough to shout this out in his slam poetry class, we should all take part and #showup to end inequality in every way possible.
“It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.” Slam! We couldn’t agree more.