From a SpeakTogether virtual workshop, Talent Unlimited High School, Spring 2020
This poem was composed during a six-week session conducted by author and spoken word artist Sheri Booker, who worked with a class of 10th-grade students to develop their voices. This workshop took place during a global pandemic, a national lockdown, and uprisings across the country to end police brutality and structural racism. Read more about the works in this collection, which are artifacts of this period and a true testament to the vision, creativity, and resilience of these students.
Listen to a recording of the following poem above.
by Jayda Todd
To have a job and get no pay
I easily cannot wait to go outside and play
I run barefoot and full of melanin and sunshine
So I could just dip my feet into the creek side
Little girls should cook and little boys should chop wood
It’s like we all stand in line and have our identities read like books
They take a few looks and think “All these people are crooks!”
But all they have to do is just read a few books.
They say “We know this and that is that!”
But what they don’t know is that all their facts are out of whack.
We fought 400 years, and for what? Nothing?
We screamed and we shouted and we cried and thought we could change something
We sat in the front of their busses and thought “Now this ought to show them something.”
But today we still shout and scream till their voices sting, and still they know nothing.
Jayda Todd was a sophomore at Talented Unlimited High School in NYC at the time of this recording.