Royce Mann, a white eighth-grade student and rising acting star,
recently brought the house down in a passionate slam poetry performance about
white privilege that is spreading like wildfire.
poem, “White Boy Privilege,” is about awakening to the fact that the world has
set the 14-year-old up to succeed while stacking the deck against women, people
of color, and immigrants. In the poem, he at first celebrates his privilege,
saying he “loves it” that he has innate benefits as a white male in American
society, but later comes to the conclusion that his privilege wasn’t created by
his generation, calling on other young white males to reject their privilege
and actively demand the privileges afforded to them be shared with the rest of
poem in its entirety:
women, I am sorry.
black people, I am sorry.
Asian Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who come here seeking a
better life, I am sorry.
everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I am sorry.
started life at the top of the ladder, while you were born on the first rung.
now that I would change places with you in an instant, but if given the
opportunity, would I?
not. Because to be honest, being privileged is awesome.
saying that you and me on different rungs of the ladder is how I want it to
saying any part of me for one moment has even liked it that way,
just saying, I fucking love being privileged and I’m not ready to give that
it, because I can say “fucking” and not one of you is attributing that to the
fact that everyone of my skin color has a dirty mouth.
it, because I don’t have to spend an hour every morning putting on makeup to
meet other people’s standards.
it, because I can worry about what kind of food is on my plate, instead of
whether or not there will be food on my plate.
it, because when I see a police officer, I see someone who’s on my side.
honest, I’m scared of what it would be like if I wasn’t on the top rung.
tables were turned, and I couldn’t have my white boy privilege safety blankie
to protect me.
lived a life by what I lack, not what I have, if I lived a life in which when I
failed, the world would say ‘Told you so.’
lived the life that you live.
was born, I had a success story already written for me. You, you were given a
pen and no paper.
always felt that that’s unfair, but I’ve never dared to speak up because I’ve
been too scared.
now I realize that there’s enough blankie to be shared.
should have the privileges that I have. In fact, they should be rights instead.
stories should be written, so all they have to do is get it read. Enough said.
embarrassing that we still live in a world in which we judge another person’s
character by the size of their paycheck, the color of their skin, or the type
of chromosomes they have.
embarrassing that we tell our kids that it is not their personality, but
instead those same chromosomes that get to dictate what color clothes they
wear, and how short they cut their hair.
most of all, it is embarrassing that we deny this, that we claim to live in an
equal country in an equal world.
that women can vote? Well, guess what? They can run a country, own a company,
and throw a nasty curveball as well. We just don’t give them the chance to.
it wasn’t us 8th grade white boys who created this system, but we profit
from it every day. We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t
come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we
of my gender, I can watch any sport on TV and feel like that could be me one
of my race, I can eat in a fancy restaurant without the wait staff expecting me
to steal the silverware.
to my parents’ salary, I go to a school that brings my dreams closer instead of
pushing them away.
white boys, I’m not sorry. I don’t care if you think that feminists are taking
over the world, or that Black Lives Matter has gotten a little too strong,
because that’s bullshit.
that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be.
white boys, it’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference.
It’s time to let go of that fear.
time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.
Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific
Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental
news. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.