Creative poem: Lacking Representation

Reflecting back on my school years, I realize I’ve primarily had white role models to look up to from a young age. Until middle school, I wasn’t aware of the lack of diversity in my classes. Most of my Hispanic friends took college prep classes while I took honors classes. That is when I discovered that primarily white students would take those advanced classes while students of color would take regular classes. I got used to having mainly white adults and classmates to learn from and socialize with, but I still felt like I stood out and was constantly out of place.

Only when I had a teacher of color did I realize the lack of representation affected me personally; I filtered my thoughts to accommodate the people around me. I would hold back during class discussions because I didn’t feel confident enough to be heard. I felt like an outsider, an intruder, I felt the need to blend in with everyone else. When I was in a class taught by a teacher of color, I felt more comfortable in class because I didn’t feel the need to restrain myself from speaking. I felt more understood and heard, which gave me the confidence to speak my mind. I no longer wanted to blend in, I wanted to stand out.

This poem is for any student of color who has felt the same feelings as me when it comes to having minimal diversity in your classroom. I want you to know that you are not alone, and that your voice matters.

Representation Matters

The bustling noise of chatter echos through the hallways
The shuffling of hundreds of feet resoundingly make their way to class
Despite the thunderous sounds around me
the only sound I hear
resides within me
Wanting to escape
It beats and bangs against my rib cage, black and blue
Stay calm
It’s just one more class
You belong here just like everyone else

Cálmate

I step inside my science class and quietly take an empty seat
I bring out my iPad
My water bottle
My pencil
My eraser
I look down at my lap, stare at my shoes
I hesitate to look up
Waves of students fill up the empty seats
Owl-eyed, I scan the room

No hay nadie como yo

I slowly feel my skin twitch and pull
Tension wraps around my muscles
My limbs collapse in on themselves

I am alone

I don’t belong here

I stick out

I am alone

I don’t belong here

I stick out

I am alone

I don’t belong here

I stick out

This constant cycle of affirmations repeatedly attacks my insides
It echos and fractures my posture
Bit by bit, my spine bends forward
Before I know it I fold back into myself
I am an ant, as small as I possibly can be
I have immersed myself into my shadow
I bend and break into a smaller version of myself

debo desaparecer

I am acutely aware of my skin
Golden brown, protruding through the sea of white
It calls attention to itself, it wants to be seen
But I’m desperately trying to disappear into the sea
My skin refuses to be submerged

me siento sola

I think myself back to a class where I thrived
A class where I shared the glow of my skin with another
I see myself in my teacher
They hold up a mirror of potential
Potential within me, of what I could possibly achieve
I see myself in my teacher
They are a painting of motivation
Motivation to extend my reach and shake hands with the stars
I see myself in my teacher
They are a beacon of confidence
Confidence in myself, deserving of belonging
I see myself in my teacher

Un profesor como yo

Maybe if I saw more of me I wouldn’t stay quiet
Maybe if I saw more of myself in my teachers I would be willing to try
How would I be if I saw more of me?
I wouldn’t banish myself to the back of the room
I wouldn’t try to box away who I am
I wouldn’t strangle myself when I had something to say

yo seré mi representación

I would raise my head higher
I would take up space
I would straighten my spine
I would make my voice heard
I would let my brown skin glow

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