Listen to the Poem
And the headline read "U.S. Capitol Riot" in the description, there was a word that jumped off of the page and into my mouth when I realized the word had been too painful to swallow, it crawled down my throat anyway playing hopscotch in my stomach until I was finally able to disgorge it from my system there before me was the word protestors not thugs, criminals, or even rioters but protestors someone, please hand me some scrabble letters so I can rearrange protesters into privilege You see, privilege is not knowing what it's like to have an adrenaline rush when you hear sirens privilege is your parents telling you to come home before dark because they don't want you out late, not because they want to be able to hear your voice again privilege is being able to complement the word parent with an "s" I hope this isn't easy to digest Privilege is not being treated differently because you have an actual cultural background and yes, I said actual cultural background emphasis on the word actual hold on let me rewind, slow down, and code switch before I become the next "angry black woman" on your social media feed who actually isn't angry but honest she's blunt real genuine fed up with the world playing the quiet game because the winner is always the one who stays silent, right privilege is getting to sleep at night and not having to worry about the interruption of death by the men in blue privilege is having a non-functioning brake light and receiving assistance but for those of us who aren’t so privileged, that non-functioning brake light is a one-way ticket to the grave privilege is getting to go outside and play with a toy gun because they’re only pretend right Privilege is having the opportunity to walk outside with whatever type of clothing you choose and not being identified as sketchy later to be identified as dead privilege is telling your mother you're going to the store to buy a snack and that you'll be back but for those of us who aren't so privileged, that is nothing but another broken promise Privilege is being put on death row for a crime you actually committed and no, I do not support the death penalty privilege is not having to include disclaimers Privilege is seldom attending funerals because there aren't dead bodies dropping in your community like flies privileged is saying “I can’t breathe” and having someone listen Privilege is not having to remember a never-ending list of individuals on the list titled "Say Their Names" Privilege is disrespecting a nation and being called a protestor but for those of us who aren't so privileged who protested peacefully against injustice we're thugs rioters criminals disturbances to the peace another dead body to join our ancestors in the ground You know I could never quite spell the world privilege not because I'm ignorant, but because the words are structured into a concept I can't identify with Ladies and gentlemen, privilege is getting to take everything I just said and forget it in a matter of minutes because none of what I said fits into your reality but for those of us who aren't so privileged, we don't have that liberty
About the Poem
Privilege Is…. is written to expose the white privilege that we see in today’s society in comparison to the effect that it has had on Black life. The poem specifically focuses on Black Lives that have been lost due to white privilege and police brutality. Since 2020 we have seen a rise in media broadcasted violence against African Americans. With that the difference between the Black experience and white privilege has shown society both the tragic truth of history repeating itself, and the endless journey to equality. While alluding to the everyday experience that often result in so many African Americans becoming a hashtag, Privilege Is… relates to both the Black and white audience and allows them to understand the circumstances of one another.
This is a poem to the lives lost, the #SayTheirNames, to the change-makers as a call to action to cultivate a less divided future.
Aneesah Lawrence is a freshman honors student at Howard University. She is a double major in Psychology and Criminology, a passionate activist, and a spoken word artist. Her poetry is an amalgamation of the Black experience, Islam, and personal narratives. Aneesah’s poems include Uncovered, Target Practice, and My Black Skin Says. She has performed her works at Howard University (Washington, DC), Sankofa Video Books & Café (Washington, DC), Art all Night 2022 (Washington, DC), and various open mics in her hometown, Jersey City, New Jersey.
Lawrence is the 2022 winner of Muslim Culture Con’s Open Mic held at the Muslim Journal’s “A Time To Be Grateful” annual fundraiser. Her career aspiration is to become a psychologist serving Black urban youth in juvenile correctional facilities and high-risk communities.
Lawrence serves as a first-year representative for Howard University’s Muslim Student Association. She is a member of the university’s Youth Justice Advocates. As an advocate, she is able to enter juvenile corrections facilities in D.C. and mentor Black youth.