Senior Makaela Tracey has been writing in her free time for many years, using it to find her voice and tell her story and the stories of others, especially when it comes to social justice. Starting back in her freshman year, Makaela began looking into social justice. She explored documentaries and tv shows that delve into untold stories of racial injustice. More recently, she watched Seven Seconds on Netflix which tells the story of a 15-year-old boy killed in an hit-and-run by a white police officer. She says this is one of many stories that inspired the poem, alongside stories and her personal experiences. It felt natural to her to write about this injustice; she sat down after finishing the show and wrote the poem in one night, and this poem went on to win the silver medal for the NAACP Act-So poetry competition this past year. Makaela feels a sense of responsibility to tell the story of many in her poetry, especially as a young black female who experiences or sees these injustices right in our community of Baltimore.
Growing up attending a predominantly white school, Makaela says she never thought racial injustice existed anymore; however, when she started high school, her eyes were opened to the injustices happening right in our own backyard and beyond. Mercy has allowed her to discuss racial injustice more openly and explore it in her poetry as well. She found one of her focuses in her work has become social justice because she feels so strongly about change. Makaela believes more discussion on racial injustice needs to be started and we need to explore what is going on and how we can make a change. ‘Act So Final’ is one of Makaela’s ways to open up a discussion.
Act So Final
Is it wrong for me to hate my blackness?
Not in the way you think;
I love how white my teeth look when I smile
in contrast to my chocolate skin;
I love the way my skin looks against the brightest of yellows or the darkest purples;
I love the hair I’ve been blessed with from birth
with its kinks and coils and curls;
I love our music, our food, our culture in general;
No, this is not my point, or reason;
But when it comes to my hate, it is deep and wide;
Why does my skin make you want to commit treason?
Why am I pretty for a Black girl?
Why am I seen as smart for a Black girl?
Why are my brothers being harassed on the streets and my sisters paid less in the work place?
Why does my culture threaten your mere existence?
To the point of violence?
To the point of making my natural existence socially unacceptable?
To the point of where you must silence our struggles?
Black pride and love built this country;
Yet I work ten times harder for half of your victory and even less acknowledgment
Why can you find your ancestors with the click of a button?
But I don’t know where I came from?
Why don’t I know my real last name?
Why don’t I know all of my family, near or far?
Why are my victories so underwhelming to you?
Why are my struggles typical for someone in my skin, but within your skin, my struggles are heroic?
Why do you undermine every successful black person?
Why does everyone know Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates; but nobody acknowledges Reginald Lewis and William Harvey?
Why was I so insecure about my skin as a little girl, that I prayed to be White?
Why must I talk properly all the time; but you can talk however you desire, even like me?
But, don’t sleep on our potential;
Because my people are priceless, like diamonds, crushed and pressed throughout time until we shine;
One day, bright and sunny, you will be deafened by the voice of my people;
You will be blinded by our victories;
It is in fact wrong of me to hate the skin you put me in;
But not the way you think.