expr:class'"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Light over darkness, our lives matter: A Poetry Slam! full of inspirational messages

Written by Jake Lloyd
Communications Manager

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that

It's impossible to choose one line from Wednesday night's DC SCORES Poetry Slam! that encapsulates the collective message sent by DC kids over the course of three hours.

But that first line from Marie Reed Elementary School, the last of 21 teams to take the stage, is as representative as any.

In front of a standing-room-only audience inside Columbia Heights Education Campus' auditorium, team after team of District youth ages 8-14 expressed their feelings through poetry Wednesday night. Performances were choreographed beautifully. They were often bilingual. They brought laughter from the audience. And tears, too.

During a time in our country when things are uncertain and nerveracking -- particularly for the immigrant youth who made up the majority of the Slam's poet-athletes, and their families who watched with pride -- Wednesday's event was a catharsis of sorts. And reason for optimism.

Kids are incredibly smart, their thoughts nuanced. Kids' voices are powerful, inspirational, impassioned.

We all come from different places, but we all come as one
-- Bancroft Elementary School


If only our country's leaders listened to these kids. Throughout the Slam!, one team after another addressed the issues they're grappling with, but not with vitriol and not by pointing fingers.

Rather, they did so by spelling out and illustrating what truly makes our country, our city, and our neighborhoods great.

"I love my country, I love my home," chanted Capital City Public Charter School's students. "Stop hurting my beautiful people."

Wearing different colored hoodies, Lincoln Middle School's message was clear: "The next time you see me, put some respect on my name."

"If I were in charge of the world, I would ban racism and make sure everyone was safe and not violent," said Chinaedum U. of Barnard Elementary School.

Raymond Middle School took the stage with signs including "Love trumps hate" and messages that resonated with many:

"Everyone has a choice. Start using your voice! America, wake up and do what's right!"

"The soil is the land of many/Who are you to take away our homes of plenty?"


If there's one DC SCORES poet-athlete who exemplies that your size does not determine the influence of your voice, it's Luis R. of Brightwood Education Campus. Decked out in his blue soccer uniform, the 10-year-old led his team's second-place performance and took the microphone with the confidence of a future world leader.

"I stand up for all immigrants in the U.S."

Luis' group-leading performance was followed by Natalia L., also 10, who wowed the crowd with an individual poem that would later win her the Shine Award for best individual performance. When Natalia found out she'd won, she rushed the stage with pure elation, hugging D.C. United coach Ben Olsen who was there to hand her a trophy. 

That moment, as much as any, demonstrated how much the Slam! means to the kids.

Then I got it, 
What if I was an explorer, 
What if I found a place that no one from our people had ever discovered, 
What if in that place kids can run freely, 
Without having to worry about the dangers in the world, 
What if in this world peace there was the number one law, 
And no one dared to break it,
-- Natalia L., 10, Brightwood EC

Ideas. Messages. Hope. The theme continued throughout the evening, one performance blending into another yet standing out for its originality as well. The above-capacity audience stayed for it all. 

LaSalle-Backus' elementary school youth impressed with their poem "Onomatopoeia" and then suggested TLC -- DC SCORES' core values of teamwork, leadership and commitment -- "for the United State of America." Third-place finisher Seaton Elementary asked: 

Don't we have the right to vote? 
Don't we have the right to live? 
Don't we have the right to choose? 
Don't we have the right to work? 
Do we live in a democracy? 

And then answered...

We have, We have a voice 
Nosotros tenemos una voz 
We have, We have a voice 
Nosotros tenemos una voz 

With their faces painted the colors of their home countries' flags, Bancroft's poet-athletes delivered a unifying, bilingual "Where we come from" poem. Then Ramon C., age 9, took the mircophone and described poetically his year-and-a-half journey emigrating to the United States -- including 15 days spent in jail.



By 7:30pm, two hours and 19 performances in, so much had been seen and said that emcee Charity Blackwell could have sent a willing, inspired audience home. Yet two schools remained, and they would both leave the auditorium celebrating winning the Golden Mic trophies. 

KIPP WILL Academy's students could be on the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement, because their performance's message was unified, clear, passionate, and delivered beautifully -- an individual poem, then a group one, another solo poem, and finally a group one.

"What's the point of having freedom if we aren't really free?" Jaquan W., 12, asked into the mic one moment. The next, his teammates, in their red soccer uniforms, joined him: 

We choose our own fate
Try to make no mistake
Live for the peace.
From the past to the present
(Pause) Life can be pleasant
Live for the peace
You can live rich
And your heart will be switched but
Live for the peace
In the hopes of being suture
(Pause) We can be the future
Live for the peace 

Marie Reed followed KIPP WILL, the kids taking the stage with labels hanging in front of their orange DC SCORES uniforms. "Bad," "violent," "ugly," "selfish," "girl," "uneducated," and more. The poet-athletes proceeded to debunk labels through poetry, punctuating their performance with:

Let’s rip off these labels
And say sayonara
So we can live in a world where
The color of your skin won’t matter to anyone

And with that, the 19th Annual Westside DC SCORES Poetry Slam! had reached its climax. Not every team or poet-athlete left with a trophy half an hour later, but all delivered messages, pleas, hope and inspiration for the hundreds of adult audience members who packed the auditorum.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that


Elementary Schools 
1st place — Marie Reed Elementary School
2nd place — Brightwood Education Campus
3rd place — Seaton Elementary School
Spirit Award — H.D. Cooke Elementary School
Shine Award — Natalia L., Brightwood Education Campus

Middle Schools 
1st place — KIPP WILL
2nd place — Truesdell EducationCampus
3rd place — MacFarland Middle School
Spirit Award — Brightwood Education Campus
Shine Award — Yanina C., Lincoln MIddle School

No comments:

Post a Comment