BLACK IS... Winner of Inaugural Harper Lee Memorial Award & Scholarship from Facing History

- Diallo Thornton, Moore High School, Louisville KY

Black is ...

the color they see.
Darkness is what they think of me.
Find fear is the thought they believe.

Or is this just a saying?
Are they just playing?

I should be the one scared.
This world, they won't share.

They made this image of me,
but choose not to look closely.
It's like a lock without the key,
but the key, with its rough rigid edges
and smooth sides, is me.

I know who I am.
Don't care what no one thinks.
I have no fear.
Society fears me.

Black is . . .

being approached by a teacher
on an otherwise long, boring day.

What's wrong, she asks.
Nothing is my reply.

As I walk through the door, she falls.
Next thing I know, I'm Tom.

Face to the ground, and a thirty-five-year-old
grinds his knee in my back like I'm a fugitive.
A white woman claims she was knocked down by a nine-year-old.

My cheek pressed against the cold linoleum and puddle of tears
that river from my eyes.

Now, I'm kicked out of school. A third grader. A Tom Robinson replay with no room for a mess up.
Now, I'm all messed up.

They tried to school-to-prison-pipeline me. Back then, I was too young to see.

Black is . . .

This poem, written by Louisville, KY High School Student Diallo Thornton is the winner of the first Harper Lee Memorial Award & Scholarship from global education organization Facing History and Ourselves.

Today would have been Harper Lee's 90th Birthday.

BLACK IS... appears publicly for the first time on Huffington Post.