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“Modern segregation – I see it with my own eyes. ‘Institutions love diversity’ — now that’s just telling lies.”

Illustration by James Rhee

VOX Teen Poetry: “A Broken System”

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A broken system, a system that only works for a few
Only the privileged, the wealthy, the six figure revenue
Schools underfunding when our scores don’t improve
Not enough books, paper, pencils, for 30 kids to reuse
How you gon’ tell us to teach, with not enough tools to use
Obscuring the flaws in the system, trying to hide up the truth

So much distortion in the history, all the lies we were taught
Distraught at our curriculum, weaved around these Eurocentric plots
Forgotten minority heroes, letting their history rot
Concealing bias upon lies, hoping we all just forgot
Modern segregation – I see it with my own eyes
“Institutions love diversity” – now that’s just telling lies

They want to keep us segregated, keep the working class working
Giving us minimum wage, minimum pay, locked up inside this economic cage
Hoping to go to college, to break this poverty cycle
But don’t have enough money, even with this financial aid
Hoping I can beat the odds, get past the admissions
Either way, I’m wondering if I can even afford this tuition

Hoping for more love and nurture, accepting of who we want to be
Hoping that our teachers believe in us, that we all can achieve
But there’s a deeper issue, skin color, now that’s how they perceive
Who they think is smarter, and who’s just a disease
Education starts with compassion, we have to start planting the seeds
Into our future generation, who will grow and prosper like trees

“Lazy students… not enough funding” – now that’s all just an excuse
Blaming everyone beneath, but y’all not hearing the youth
Rich white folks sit back, relax, like they got nothing to lose
But I urge you to stop, take a look, put yourself in our shoes
Change starts with action, leading, teamwork, but most of all we need you
Now I’m just hoping for this change, restructure and starting anew

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A note from the author:

Our education system has been failing us for far too long. In order to create change in this stagnant education culture, we, have to fight for our rights as students since no one else will! 

After seeing my generation losing the academic ambition we once all held, I realized that we need a system that works for us. All while millions of us are surviving amidst a global pandemic, racial tensions, and political conflicts, we need a system that works for all of us!

I hope to shed more light on an issue that affects all of us, and for those who have a passion for educational equity, like me, visit www.itsourturn.org for more information.

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comments (1)

  1. Julie Kimble

    Well done, James! Your brush strokes paint the painful truth.