Thursday, September 23, 2021

In St Louis, hope + fear = poetry


When one St Louis-area seventh grader saw an illustration of the Gateway Arch on the cover of the Dec 8 New Yorker, she said the white side and black side coming together were like black and white communities that should also come together.

At Jennings Junior High, students wrote poems to describe the situation in Ferguson, and the St Louis Post-Dispatch put their story on the front page.

“The picture is the separation of the communities and what different races think of each other,” one student said. “It shows us not together,” another added. Then, free-form poetry started flowing onto the second student’s whiteboard. She wrote:

The whites and blacks need to come together again so the arch can be grey.

That is what Arshyana Aldridge wrote on a dry-erase board. Imagine that. From a child. The recognition that black and white make grey, the color of steel, the strong color of the arch in her hometown. We proudly record her words here.

Despite the legal action foretold in Ferguson, Mo., here by a Harvard law professor who spoke recently on the campus of the University of Illinois, Urbana, and whose words were reported in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, in the end, kids will lead the way away from racism.

Wrote Dyshia Johnson:

People say it is,
But people hurting the communities,
I say it’s just a quiz.
They’ll never win.
I suggest they stop.
Peace and love will
Stop the cop.

Describe how a person, song, image, etc., inspires you or has inspired others. See Common Core literature standard RL.11-12.3 for more information.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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