Listen to a rendition of this poem on Sound Cloud
This poem is about a young Black boy’s experience of how the education system views and treats him based off of the stereotypes surrounding his race. Many Black boys are affected by the school-to-prison pipeline which is the disproportionate ratio of young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to become incarcerated because of increasingly harsh disciplinary policies in schools. Our Executive Director, Thomas Houston was inspired to write this poem because every child deserves to be seen based on who they are rather than the perceptions of our society.

Do see you me?

Thirteen years ago
walked into the classroom

eager to learn

the ABCs

but I wasn’t seen

Sat in my seat

pencil in hand

eyes direct

ready to learn

but I still wasn’t seen

A few years go by

and I realized that my eyes are not his eyes

light eyes

my skin not his skin

white skin

Middle school came along and I knew

well-behaved or misbehaved, it showed

you said in education, I would not make it

standing outside, your hand pulling mine

guiding me down the pipe

with 25 to life

I should’ve known since you’re the same

as the one that took my father away

falling from the streets

no more memories

he is my king but you have captured him

High school comes around

average student, less hope than before

no matter my actions or words

you see me as a threat

not a student but a threat

incarceration pursues

the pigmentation of my skin

vilifies the person within

denies us education

locks us up behind falsification

Instead of being able to sit in a room with

four walls

I am left to die in a cell with

four bars

just because of the color of my skin

I am eighteen years old today

but fifty-five by tomorrow

there is no justice in the justice system

one little fight at the end of the school day

led to a lifetime fight in prison

just because of educators’ perception

Innocent black boy

turned dangerous black man

defunded education

because of the existence of mass incarceration

and did I mention institutionalized and systematic racism?

Chained up

I dream of the day the education system is funded

the prison system abolished

racism dismantled

and a cycle of breaking black bodies broken