After two police shootings, Royce Mann again takes to poetry to convey his feelings
His first poem, "White Boy Privilege," has been viewed 14 million times on Facebook
The Atlanta teen who pointed out the unfair advantages of white privilege is back with another poem.
Royce Mann, the 14 year-old student from Atlanta whose slam poem “White Boy Privilege” went viral with over 14 million views on Facebook, debuted his second slam poem on Thursday.
Speaking on “The Preachers,” a talk show on Fox, Mann introduced “All Lives Matter, But…” Like his first piece, “All Lives Matter, But…” centers on issues of race and privilege. The segment will air Thursday at 11:00 a.m. ET.
He said he was inspired to address these topics after the shooting deaths of two African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“It’s the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it’s real. They just don’t talk about it because they’re scared of change,” he said.
Mann, who is white, shared how he thinks people can work to overcome the challenges of racism and privilege.
“All these problems, I think, they really come from stereotyping, from grouping people together. Lot’s of people say, ‘oh well, all police discriminate, all police are racist,’” he said, referring to the recent attacks on and deaths of police officers in Texas and Louisiana.
Mann said that assuming all police are bad or dangerous is wrong.
“Lots of police are really good people who want to serve their country. On the other hand, lots of people say, lots of black people are criminals. And that’s not true at all,” he said.
“So I think we just need to realize that instead of grouping people together based on their race, based on their gender, maybe we could take the time to learn who somebody is as an individual.”
With the premiere of his second poem, Mann will further contribute to the national discussion on race and privilege.
The definition of white privilege
He said he “just wanted to talk about privilege in an honest way.”
“Everybody should feel safe when they’re pulled over by a police officer. Everybody should be able to eat at a fancy restaurant without the waitstaff expecting them to steal the silverware,” said Mann.
Mann then clarified what he saw as the definition of privilege. “Somebody on YouTube, they said, the definition of white privilege is that life can be hard if you’re white but life is seldom hard because you’re white … life can be easy if you’re of a minority but life is seldom easy because you’re of a minority.”
With the recent deaths of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Mann told CNN he felt frustrated. “We need to realize that violence does not defeat violence. If there’s something wrong with our world, violence – that won’t create change. And we definitely need to take action but not in a violent way … we need to realize that peace is the only thing that can defeat violence.”
Mann performed his first poem at a slam poetry competition in May at The Paideia School in Atlanta, in which he reflected on the privilege he feels he has been automatically awarded given his status as a white male. The winning poem was written after he attended a class called “Race, Class and Gender” that he said showed him how prevalent issues of privilege were in society.
‘All Lives Matter, But…’
Later, to resounding applause, Mann debuted his new poem “All Lives Matter, But…”
Mann said he wrote the second poem in light of the recent police shootings and shootings of police. “My second poem is in response to the recent violence and the peaceful protests. I want to talk about how violence isn’t what’s going to create change and I want to show people that we can create change peacefully.”
It began with a bang: “All lives matter, but … One: So do black lives. Why do two phrases that should work side by side seem to only divide? Two: That’s all anyone’s saying: Black lives matter, too.”
Mann then referenced the death of Eric Garner. “Eleven: That’s how many times – ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ – Eric Garner said, ‘I can’t breathe’ before he was killed by police. So I guess those three words only mean stop if you’re white.”
His poem plowed through statistics: “52: It’s been 52 years since the civil rights act passed and everyone supposedly became equal. Well guess what, we’re in 2016 and films about equality are still part of the fantasy genre … 102: That’s how many unarmed black people were killed by police last year.”
‘Willing to listen’
Mann, who referred to the son of Alton Sterling as an inspiration in an interview with HLN last week, recited fervently, “15: That’s how old Cameron Sterling was when he lost his father. 15: That’s how old Cameron Sterling was when he said we must protest the right way. 15: That’s how old Cameron sterling was when he said peace, not guns.”
Now Mann has become a known young voice on race and privilege in his own right. He told CNN, “I’m really not the only one. I can say there are a lot of kids out there who are aware of what’s happening, who have things to say. But people don’t always listen because we’re so young. I’m trying to do this for other kids out there who have things to say but people aren’t willing to listen.”
When asked if he has any more poems in the works, Mann said yes, but it all depends on how he’s feeling.
“It will take something that makes me really happy or mad to write a poem. I hope I will never have to write another poem about police shootings. But if there is more violence, I will use my words to create change.”