By : Sheila McKinney
Do you ever feel that wave of sadness and anger at the same time that gives you goosebumps because another life was taken? That black body laying on the pavement bleeding out because a world that they never asked to be in has no value to consider a human life. Do you ever feel your eyes getting blurry with tears? The same tears you had two months ago because another mom or dad, or sister or brother lost his life for the color of their skin. That is what got me into poetry. Knowing about the injustices in this country encouraged me to write poetry. Poetry is a way to express myself with words and rhymes. I haven’t always been into poetry but there is something about hearing other people’s poems that gives me excitement.
Being in debate at Pinole Valley High School and having an amazing debate teacher has given me so many opportunities to speak my truth. My debate teacher encouraged me to write and express how I feel by poetry. I participated in debates where I would be sharing my poems. Debate gives me the confidence to stand up and speak in front of people, gives me an opportunity to think on my feet, and it works on your speaking skills. I can compete with my peers and share my art with them. It’s a good experience because debate helps me with poetry and poetry helps me with debate.
In 2021 I auditioned to be the First Youth Poet laureate and by the grace of god I got the position. The best part about getting this position was the fact that I get to work with other students and adults. I get to meet new people from all over, including meeting new people from my own community. I get to work on my skills as a poet with other poets which has been a blessing. Getting to learn about all the talent in Richmond has been exciting. It is only the beginning. I want to learn from all the talent that’s in Richmond and help out the best way I can! I want to be that one black girl that tells our stories. That one black girl that’s educated and that one black girl that’s able to reach her community.