powered by your voice
Jun 09
hawa's picture

Balance Beam

Gym class 2009
A young girl steps in to face her biggest fear yet
She thinks to herself
Nothing can hold her back from this kind of success
Can tell her she can’t do it
Can scare her away
Nothing, but the balance beam 
She hops on to it hoping that it would be just as easy for her
as it was for the other kids
She wishes for one single chance to prove to the rest that she could maintain balance
She crosses her fingers that no one would laugh...
Little does she know that with one foot comes the stumbling of another
That we are not all as nimble as jack
That this beam was not made for victory on her part
There never seems to be victory on her part
only obstacles
But she dodges these obstacles
NO, bullets, its matrix
Puts on costumes to make everyone comfortable
it’s white chicks
Doesn’t know how to choose one thing over the other
Twilight, eclipse
I’m sorry I didn’t mean to critique my life as a movie
but now a days I can’t separate fantasy from reality
All my energy is concentrated on what I can’t have
And what I do have is something most can't handle,
I can’t handle
I’m black,
I’m proud to be black,
scared to be black,
I’m black.
They tell me I’m beautiful in my skin,
but how far does beauty roll off your tongue.
They tell me that diversity is what completes their community,
Audio download:
Balance Beam.mp3
Jun 09
Kiran's picture

Shhhhh

Shhhhh

By: Balkisa Abdikadir, Lena Ginawi, Hawa Adam, and Kiran Waqar

L: I can’t talk about black liv…
B/H: Shhhhhh
K: Don’t talk about it
There is an elephant in the room
K: I can’t talk about gay righ...
B: Shhhhh don’t talk about it
There is an elephant in the room
K: I am in my room
H: Watching video
L: After video
B: After video
H: Black girl talks about black power
L: White girl talks about feminism
K: Muslim girl recites the Quran
hmmmm
*pause*
B: I want to hear a white person speak up against racism
L: I want to see a man stand up against rape
K: I want to witness a Jew preach against islamophobia
B: Does this even happen?
H: Why isn’t this happening?
*pause*
There is an elephant in the room
H: These problems are too big for one group to handle
L: One person
B: One identity to handle
H: We need you
L: And you need us
B: Slavery was not ended by black people alone
K: It took an arson of colors
H: These conflicts transcend me
B: me
L: me
K: me
Us
L: Our voices need to join together
B: Loud and in unision
*pause*
K/L: We’re not black but we support black lives matter.
K: Let’s meet at 6:30 tomorrow.
Jun 09
hawa's picture

We are the World

We are the World

By: Hawa Adam, Balkisa Abdikadir, Lena Ginawi, and Kiran Waqar

♫...We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who...♫

Hawa: Are making mistakes,
Kiran: Segregation never was so visible
Balkisa: Me vs. you
Lena: Us vs. them
Hawa: Black
Balkisa: White
Lena: Arab
Kiran: Asian
Hawa: We get so caught up in the darkness of these differences that we can’t see the light of our similarities
Kiran: We turn away from the 2 eyes, 1 nose model of the human being and instead form our own images of acceptance
Lena: Humanity, unity, we detach from it all
Balkisa: We drift apart slowly, steadily like water eroding at rock

Kiran: I am Mother Asia
We have a rich history scared by the hands of white men
Who have taken a beautiful continent and tried to turn it evil with greed
British colonialism in India
Drugs in China
Assimilation nationwide
We are recovering from your attacks
But it has not ended
We still face poverty to this day
Our children are dying in the stone cold factories you created
But all you can do is make fun of the accents when you call the help line
You say you know us
That you find us exotic
You enjoy our food, culture, and movies
Jun 09
hawa's picture

3 Words, 3 Syllables

3 Words, 3 Syllables

By: Hawa Adam

Why is it so hard for a man to say I love you
3 words, 3 syllables that control everything
But don’t seem to be included in your vocabulary
Is it honestly so difficult?
Do you even want to say it?
Should I even be speaking this poem?
I love you 
It is foreign, it is alien
It never seem to come to your brain
As if your brain is shut down for the day
As if your brain circuits are dysfunctional
Or do you have another in mind
Even when life creates the perfect opportunities for you, you don’t grasp them
You can’t seem to push it out of you
As if there are invisible hands holding you back from it
From happiness
Sometimes you don’t even have to mean it just say it
Because searching for meaning simply takes time
And a woman's heart can only beat to the rhythm of the clock for so long
So just grow some balls and say it
Us ladies no longer want to wait around for your lips to gain the confidence they need
We don’t want to have to play dress up to make it easier for you
We don’t want to bend over backwards, trip over heels to get through to you
We don’t want to use up our energy daily day only to be disappointed nightly
And we definitely don’t want to be the first ones to say it
Because if we say it first, it just means you couldn’t
It just feels like we stole your moment
Jun 09
Kiran's picture

Body Standards

Body Standards

By: Kiran Waqar

You saw my body way before you saw who I am
But that’s okay
I did the same to you
You took it all in
The outfit - meh
The face - blah
The body - ugh

I saw yours
Thin waste
Luscious hair and breasts
Beautiful baby blues
You are the standard

How can I ever compete?
Your clothes are great and so is your skin.
I prophesize your personality will match without even a single word.
I can see your pearly whites and sigh.
I know mine can never be so shiny.
I bet you get all the boys you want.
Bet they chase after you like a hungry dog.
Bet you have life easy.
With your long eyelashes you wouldn’t have to work a day in your life.

Only problem is you’re not real
You’re a product of makeup artists, stylists, designers and editors
Editors who brushed away 15 pounds
Editors who enchanced your face
More
More
More
You are beautiful but you are not real
I am real but I am not beautiful
I know that these remarks are only skin deep
I know that there is more to me than my acne scars and my insecurities
They’re just hard to find sometimes
Through all the self hate there is a cheerleader within us all
Who sees our flaws but tells us to stand tall
She is cheering us on right now
Jun 06
Kiran's picture

American Dream

American Dream

By: Kiran Waqar and Hawa Adam

Singer: Lena Ginawi

♫...Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light...♫

H - America, the golden brick road to success. A place they had seen on TV screens, books and magazines.
K- Just the thought made their heart swell. They saw Americans whose eyes glittered with passion, whose souls were filled with hope of the future. They wanted that.
H- It was a place where their children's children could reach for the sky where they could reach for the sky.
K- A place where they were told to shoot for the moon so they would land among the stars. A place where the rags to riches story was as common as their veins which bled red, white and blue.
H- Where anything could happen regardless of race, sexuality or creed. America was their ticket to equality, opportunity, and liberty. It was the promise land!
They wanted to be Americans  

And they fought with every tooth and nail

K-  Just to get here
H- Just to set foot on American soil
K- To walk the grounds that paved the way to clean water
H- Education
K- A home
With a white picket fence
K- The place that was the stuff of legends.
H- Nothing could convince them that these legends were just myths
*Lena comes in again*
K- That the American dream was just a spark that would never become a flame
Jun 09
abdikadb's picture

Feminism

Editor's Note: This piece is a work in progress!

Feminism

By: Kiran Waqar and Balkisa Abdikadir

I changed 5 times before getting here and I’m still worried you don't think I’m pretty
I am hyper aware of my imperfections
Of your hungry eyes eating them up
Taking them in
Swallowing me in labels
Words that tell you who I am
But what I am
Ugly
Pretty
Fat
Skinny
Tall
Short
Beautiful
Hideous
I know you saw my hijab and think you know who I am
Oppressed
You see me and tell me to reveal
That I’m in America now, no need for this cage, right?
Wrong- this is me
I’m not hiding
I’m protecting myself
From your eyes always looking for flaws
Looking for the unshaved legs
Or the not so beautiful marks
So don’t tell me I’m oppressed
For not being a slave to my body
My body which is
I don't bash you on your lack of clothing
Don't tell me I’m oppressed
I am protecting myself
From the unwanted gazes
I am forcing you to look at who I am and not what I look like
I don't need makeup to be pretty
I don't need your approval
So why do i want it so bad?
Who taught me I was ugly unless told otherwise?
Why is it that young girls that their self worth depends on others
We are force fed these lessons
That our hips are too large
Jun 09
Kiran's picture

Speak

SPEAK

By: Kiran Waqar

What makes us any different than a mountain lion?
A bumble bee?
A bat? A monster?
Is it our opposable thumbs?
The ability to understand the world around us?
The corny dad jokes?
The motherly affection?
What makes us human? What changes us from beast to person?
It is our voices
Our opinions that invoke change
That are heard from the tops of mountains
From the darkest corners where not even light can escape
We are there. We are brave. We are loud. We are unbashful. We are quiet
Whispering our beliefs
Right
Wrong
Yes
No
We are the change
With every breath
Stance
Opinion we alter the course of humanity
We screw the road map of society
Searching the busy roads for beautiful gems
The quiet streets for hidden messages
The forgotten allies for the forgotten folks
Every day we choose our words
Whether we support bigotry or love
Hate or peace
Joy or anger
We fight against the blanket of silence
Surrounding us
Suffocating us
Killing us
We use the daggers of our tongues to cut away the masks of society
That we should not, must not, cannot speak the crimes against the silenced.
Unless you wish to join their ranks
Do not speak of white privilege, racism, sexism, Islamophobia
You will not
You will not make them uncomfortable
Jun 09
abdikadb's picture

Home

Home

By: Balkisa Abdikadir

The globe next to my bed
one single spin my eyes land on somali.
The home i’ve never been to only born into.
And still
my heart yearns for the land that raised the Father who brought me far away from it.
The land that built a nation of poets
Poets that talk about the culture and land ruined by war
They speak the same words that run through my veins.
Our hearts will never become sore
It is a nation where art and culture are celebrated all around at every festival
From weddings to baby showers, funerals and homecomings
But the question is when will when can I go home?
Today Somalia is only known because of all the televised terror
But it was once home to many who were forced to leave so much behind
They found a new nation
They Wanted to create a new home
but it’s not their home
Nor is it my home
But I’m determined to make this longing
This wanting
This goal alive again
My home is the great stories from my parents
My Home is community that gives me the immunity to make a difference in a world that
Is keeping out unity.
My home is the memories in my heart
that I have yet to live
I'm so eager to make it all happen
Jun 09
Lena's picture

Labels

Editor's note: Lena Ginawi is a member of Muslim Girls Making Change, the slam team that YWP selected to represent YWP and Vermont at the Brave New Voices Festival in July, 2016. She has presented this poem in public prior to BNV and this recording comes from her appearance at The Turrell Fund Day -- a Celebration of Children and the many people and organizations who work to make children's lives better. Lena received a sustained standing ovation; several in the audience were brought to tears.

 

By Lena Ginawi

Labels.
Labels represent a way of differentiating and identifying people.
Little do they know, they are demeaning those they are describing or classifying.
Do they know that labeling the minority is impacting us negatively?
Society seems to be focused on negatively labeling those who might be seen as deviant from cultural norms.
The funny thing is, behaviors are deviant only when society labels them as deviant.
Labeling is adaptive and miraculous, but it also contributes to some of the deepest problems that face our species.
So what makes us any different from you?
Is it the way I dress?
The way I talk?
The way I hush my voice from the crowd?

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