black
Khailyn Hughes-Sellers performs her winning poem. COURTESY BILL SOLOMON

Montclair Local celebrates student writing as students head back to school this week. In subsequent issues we will publish the winners of the poetry slam held by the Montclair Literary Festival last spring. The Montclair Literary Festival is presented
by Succeed2gether, an afterschool tutoring program for students in grades K-12. The slam — spoken word poetry — included students from Montclair High School and the town’s middle schools.

We’re interested in hearing from you as well — please send us your published or performed
student writing from literary magazines and other school and neighborhood organizations!
For inquiries write to culture@montclairlocal.news.

“Because I’m Black” by then-sixth-grader Khailyn Hughes-Sellers was the winner
of the Middle School section of the slam:

 

Does the color of my skin offend you?
Gifted to me by my ancestors
Wrapped in their struggle to dream
Tied with their fears and years of tears

Oooo child things are gonna get easier

Does the color of my skin offend you?
Would it surprise you to know
That this caramel tone dipped and whipped
with love
Is a house for more than teeth sucking attitude
Why does the rhythm in my voice and the slang
of my words
Make me ghetto or a sista girl
Does it mean I can’t speak unapologetically
About who I am and what I think
When will my caramel hue not be a factor

Teacher
When I raise my hand to answer do you flush in
fear because I know the answer
Or do you just hope I don’t
When I pass by you to get to my seat does your
heart race, palms sweat

Friend
You remind me that my beautiful honey shade is
glorious in its presence
Every time you call me your “black friend”

Store Clerk
Why am I the
victim of your
stares and
glares when
I’m shopping
with my friends

Police
Did anyone call the
cops on your
daughter when
she sells lemonade
on a hot summer
day

Police
How did it feel when you had a gun to my sister’s
head

Police
Did they throw your daughter to the ground when
she “fit the description”

GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES
GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES
GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES

Oooo child things are gonna get easier

Does the color of my skin offend you

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READ: LOCAL WRITING; ‘POSIE IN ANDERSON PARK’ BY SUKI GRABCHESKI

READ: MONTCLAIR LITERARY FESTIVAL BEGINS TOMORROW

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