Jon, an 8th grader in our PAZ After-School Program at PS 214 in the Bronx, wrote this poem as part of a PAZ project leading up to Martin Luther King Day. The project included discussions about Black Lives Matter, civil rights, breaking stereotypes, and police brutality. In writing the poem, says PAZ Director Bryanna Kolja,"Jon had what he calls an eye-opening experience. He captured the very essence of the liberation of our youth’s minds."
An Interview with Jon
What were you thinking and feeling when you wrote the poem?
"I felt grief. I wanted to channel the pain and struggles of those before me, who fought for me to be able to be where I am today."
How did it feel to have these difficult conversations about racial injustice in PAZ? Do you think it’s important for middle school students to discuss racial issues?
"At first, I think we were all reluctant, but in time we were all open to voicing our opinions and learning from each other, but more importantly from the past. It is extremely important for us to have these conversations to apply to our future and possible situations that we may face as young Black and Latino students."
How do you feel about the great reception the poem has gotten?
"It gave me a sense of pride both within myself and the program that I am able to show many aspects of myself, including being a dynamic leader and a well-rounded individual."