Voices of Youth: Poetry on racism and policing

This article is part of Concentrate's Voices of Youth series, which features content created by Washtenaw County youth in partnership with Concentrate mentors, as well as feature stories by adult writers that examine issues of importance to local youth. In this installment, youth writer Quincy Behm shares her poetry on racism and policing.

Guiding Hand

The foundation of our nation
Much like its ‘father’ 
Based on suffering of 20% of the population
After promising and setting equal precedent,
Guess who stole those men's teeth to replace his own of poor quality? 
Our president 
Who spewed words fighting for freedom and equal ideology
His mouth filled with the teeth of the slaves
Whom he made an exception of his own words for
Notable similarities between his groundbreaking waves
And those of the nation he promised to be different. 

You never learned this in your classroom 
Although this affects the many 
Forever kept in their minds backroom
School children are learning the lies that “it wasn’t that bad”
Just as they learn of the ‘wooden’ tooth 
It is taught to conceal the rancid truth 
It is covered because those that made these racist lies 
And those who shielded the slaves cries 
Knew of the real nature with which they failed to inform the youth
They knew the horror of their despicable truth
Acting like that wound isn’t still there 
Will never stop its bleeding 

Deep scarring can’t heal without us being aware 
That they exist and are still feeding 
On the lies that continue to spread
Let the world learn of the unfiltered truth 
Don’t let the lies seep into their heads
Let the young and old know of the bloody fathers' hands 
Or those hands will continue to guide the present 
And tighten the strangling bands
On the Black body of America 

Keeping the youth uneducated of the facts 
Makes you the hand 
That kills and impacts 
The lives of those who built this very nation
Give the world what it needs: an education

Education is the guiding hand 
Holding the reigns of our future
This hand must never receive its demands 
Out of falsehood


Gentle Comfort 

From those of us who never worry about police 
There is talk of discomfort and unease to sit 
As though not acknowledging will bring an unspoken peace
I hear about how hard it is to admit
Without a doubt, it in no way does compare
To the pain that others face of being judged for your skin
For just being born and breathing air
Being afraid that the law which is supposed to protect
The law losing its morals without care 
Has killed others for looking ‘suspect’ 

No matter the ‘inconvenience’
For us not living afraid of racism and its lethal sting, 
It is our jobs to experience this discomfort 
To end the suffering and stop this horrid thing
Educating ourselves is the key 
That unlocks the door to a better future 
For those on the frontlines of brutality 
For the world's very soul 

For while there might be some emotion to this education
It is worse to do nothing when a people are being hurt
It is of a far greater importance to preserve the Black lives of our nation
Than it is to preserve the gentle comfort 
Of those who can choose to avoid it.

Quincy Behm is an Ann Arbor resident going into her freshman year at Pioneer High School. She spends her free time participating in sports including wrestling, cross country, and soccer in addition to reading and writing.

Concentrate staffer Sarah Rigg served as Quincy's Voices of Youth mentor on this project.

To learn more about Concentrate's Voices of Youth project and read other installments in the series, click here.
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