A middle school-aged student ready his poem at the mic onstage with classmates behind him.

Dear Brown Skin Boy, Dear Brown Skin Girl

Middle school students had the opportunity to work with spoken word poet and teaching artist Femi the Drifish at this year’s Summer Arts for Learning at Goodnow. During the six-week-long program at the recently re-opened community center managed by Arts for Learning, the class imagined and discussed how children with brown skin experience the world. The girls in the class composed poems saying, “Dear brown skin boy,” and the boys, “Dear brown skin girl.” The class read their poems aloud for parents, staff, and the entire Goodnow community at the program’s culminating performance.

What the audience experienced was honest, powerful, and emotional. Some of the students’ words celebrate beauty, while others express deep pain, and all beautifully and poignantly illustrate the perspectives, fears, and dreams of some of the most valuable members of our community–our children. Let their voices and messages be heard.

Dear brown skin boy,
I’m confused and afraid.
I wonder what path I would take.
I hear that there’s only two ways out.
I see mothers burying their sons.
I want my mom to never feel that pain.
I’m confused and afraid.
I pretend all is fine.
I feel like I’m suffocating.
I touch nothing.
So I believe all is fine.
I worry that it isn’t.
I cry no more.
I’m confused and afraid.
I understand people believe
I am just a statistic.
I say to them I’m different.
I dream of life getting easier.
I try my best to make my dream come true.
I hope that it does.
I’m confused and afraid.
Dear brown skin boy.

Arts for Learning at Goodnow brings meaningful and joyful experiences to the community year-round. Our free, in-person, arts-integrated afterschool program for K-8th grade students is currently open for enrollment. Learn more about the program and how to register for Arts for Learning at Goodnow Afterschool at artsforlearningmd.org/goodnow.