Royce Mann performed a winning poem “White Boy Privilege” during a slam poetry competition at The Paideia School in Atlanta. The poem reflects on Royce’s perceived privileges that he believes have been automatically afforded to him as a result of being born a white male.
Transcript of the poem:
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 in 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?
Press Play – Royce Mann, Age 14, “White Boy Privilege”, Slam Poem
Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome. I’m not saying that you and me on different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to stay.
I’m not saying that any part of me has for a moment even liked it that way.
I’m just saying that I f—— love being privileged and I’m not ready to give that away. I love it because I can say ‘f——‘ and not one of you is attributing that to the fact that everyone with my skin color has a dirty mouth.
I love it because I don’t have to spend an hour every morning putting on makeup to meet other people’s standards.
I love it because I can worry about what kind of food is on my plate instead of whether or not there will be food on my plate.
I love it because when I see a police officer I see someone who’s on my side.
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 and I didn’t have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me.
If I lived a life lit by what I lack, not what I have, if I lived a life in which when I failed, the world would say, ‘Told you so.’
If I lived the life that you live.
When I was born I had a success story already written for me.
You — you were given a pen and no paper.
I’ve always felt that that’s unfair but I’ve never dared to speak up because I’ve been too scared.
Well now I realize that there’s enough blankie to be shared. Everyone should have the privileges I have.
In fact they should be rights instead.
Everyone’s story should be written, so all they have to do is get it read.
No, not enough said.
It is embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person’s character by of the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type of chromosomes they have.
It is 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 and an equal world.
We say that women can vote. Well guess what: They can run a country, own a company, and throw a nasty curve ball as well. We just don’t give them the chance to.
I know it wasn’t us 8th-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.
Because of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV, and feel like that could be me one day.
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.
Dear white boys: I’m not sorry.
I don’t care if you think the feminists are taking over the world, that the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bulls—.
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.
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