A poem written by a 14-year-old boy in Atlanta, Georgia has gone viral and sparked conversation on white privilege.
Royce Mann, a white middle school student, “White Boy Privilege,” a poem he wrote for a competition at his private school. The poem, which won first prize, comments on the many privileges white men have over women, immigrants and people of color.
Mann recited the poem in May and a video of his passionate performance has recently spread and garnered attention amid daily media attention on racist and gender issues.
“White Boy Privilege” honestly compares the boy’s experiences with those not like him and apologizes for the privilege he has taken for granted.
“Dear women, I’m sorry,” the poem begins. “Dear black people, I’m sorry. Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come here seeking a better life, I’m sorry.”
The poem continues by citing privileges Mann has grown to love as a white boy, as he confesses that it would be hard to give them up.
“I say now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the opportunity, would I? Probably not. Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome.”
The poem ends with a call to action for other young white boys to seek change. Mann calls for white privilege to be shared among all groups of people.
“I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be. Hey white boys: it’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear. It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.”
The eighth-grader admits in his poem that the problem of white privilege was not created by his generation, but he emphatically states that his can be the generation where change begins.
“I know it wasn’t us eighth grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day,’ he declares. “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.”