At school, our teachers are continually challenged to explore our concept of race and how we’ve been influenced by it. For me, it’s been a big awakening to realize how much white privilege has really influenced me without my knowledge, and I wanted to share an exercise that one of my principals challenged us to do. This particular exercise has less to do directly about race as it does more with identity (for some, these two concepts align more closely than for others). George Ella Lyon, Kentucky’s 2015-2016 poet laureate wrote the first “Where I’m From” poem and you can explore it here – it’s a beautiful, introspective poem that provokes a lot of thought on where we are each from. What aspects of your childhood stuck with you, influenced you? What is driving you and inseparable from who you are and where you came from?
We are presenting each of our poems in the next couple of weeks, and I thought I would share mine here, with you:
I’m from colored chalk and mini chalkboards, acrylic paint and turpentine, school craft projects and my mother’s hand-painted ceramics.
I’m from devotion and commitment, a mother who always put us first, a father who debated politics with me.
I’m from KU basketball tickets and waving the wheat, a big yellow house and a basketball goal.
I’m from a hand-me-down piano, violin strings, flutes, and a basement full of guitars.
I’m from late night football games and marching shoes, plumes and bulky uniforms.
I’m from wagging tails and snuggly purrs, late night cicadas and dirt under my fingernails.
I’m from buttered popcorn and cheese parties, homemade biscuits and dessert glasses of cocktail fruit.
I’m from a playhouse that wasps loved as much as my sister and I, and dreams of a garden the size of my house and room to breathe.
I’m from hard work and a battle for perfectionism, kindness and laughter, and curly hair.