Royce Mann is a 14-year-old student at Paideia High School whose poem about white privilege has gone completely viral with more than half a million views on YouTube. But he says the irony is pretty clear. “It’s a little sad knowing that if I wasn’t my race or even my gender maybe that I wouldn’t have gone viral.”
Royce’s poem, which he says was inspired by a class about race, class and gender at Paideia, discusses white privilege and how it affects women and people of color — basically anyone who isn’t a “middle class white boy.” The poem also expresses hope for equality in the future.
We sat down with Royce while he was recording the slam poem he’d originally written as various media outlets stood by. We wanted to figure out his motivation for creating his poem and how it leaves a mark of understanding not only on people of color, but on white people as well. “I want people who disagree with me to see that video,” Royce said. “If I could get 10 of those people to start rethinking their views, and maybe start seeing it from my point of view, too, and from people who are of a different race than them and a different gender, then I would have accomplished something.”
Catherine Boyd, 19, is an intern/reporter who loves Chinese food and stalking super villains with pitch forks.
Arlena McClenton, 19, is a rising sophomore at Barnard College. She loves writing, reading and exploring the city. Say hi on Twitter @lenamcclenton.