Kalilia's Commencement Speech from Allen Summer Nursing Camp

I start my speech with my favorite poem, a sightless memory that requests reflection, even from the enlightened. 

In The Depths Of Solitude

i exist in the depths of solitude 

pondering my true goal 

trying 2 find peace of mind 

and still preserve my soul 

constantly yearning 2 be accepted 

and from all receive respect 

never comprising but sometimes risky 

and that is my only regret 

a young heart with an old soul 

how can there be peace 

how can i be in the depths of solitude 

when there r 2 inside of me 

this duo within me causes 

the perfect oppurtunity 

2 learn and live twice as fast 

as those who accept simplicity

Tupac Shakur.

This poem means a lot of things to me. It means finding yourself, no matter how hard that journey may be. Navigating your life and the decisions you make. Figuring out the complexity that is human nature. Searching for your place in the world wherever that takes you. 

But one of the lines that sticks out to me the most is the very beginning. “I exist in the depths of solitude, pondering my true goal.” when i came to camp i too, was wrestling with the concept of the future. I knew i wanted to be a writer and i had no interest in a health science or nursing career. I knew that this opportunity was placed in my lap. And i knew that it would be foolish, extremely foolish of me to reject it. 

I have a way of making up my mind, rarely, but when i do it sticks. A teacher of mine once caught on to this habit and told me, “Just make sure you're not closing any doors.” so i walked through the one provided. Well, more liked gripped the handle and jiggled it a little because it was locked and we were actually supposed to enter through winter hall. This program has taught me that our minds are always subjective to change. That we may think we have everything figured out, but we should never stop looking or exploring our options. 

Before i didn’t realize how much patient interaction you could get with a simple two year degree. I didnt know that I possibly wanted to be a physical therapy assistant, or an occupational therapy assistant, or a nurse who works in a clinic, touching so many lives and leaving them better than i found them. I knew that i wanted to help people and that i was determined to do it the way i knew how. This experience has been one I’m grateful for and one i will remember as a milestone in my career. 

The memories and tours and classes we’ve been lucky enough to receive have inspired me to keep going in a direction i would not have pursued if it wasn’t for you. So i leave you with a poem of my own. 

A solitude now shallow 

I too existed in the depth

A profound silence as i held my breath 

A door is only a door if you open it 

Or it becomes a barrier of sorrows wept

So i open it forcefully in strength 

With support and courage and shoulders tense 

If i came here tomorrow and waited in suspense

I would have learned nothing at the worlds expense

So i offer the earth my knowledge and flare

Solitude is only solitude if no one is there 

Carry your discernment like a badge well owned 

Your brain but a refinement upon your throne 

Great minds thinking alike above simplicity 

Eliminating solitude with multiplicity 

Yearning to be accepted is of the past, and at last 

We carry the torch through the door steadfast


https://youtu.be/Qe6s4qLTk1Q (link to video of one performance on the WWP)

I knew going into this I was gonna have to budget my time, cause you've been occupying more storage I have available in my mind. Unintentionally downloading delusions that have become unrecognizably mine. I guess you could say I'm losing, cruising on a crashing wave of failed yet unattempted motivations of feelings that are deprecating to a heart whose walls are so high they are coveted by a man sworn to make this country "great again". Out on a limb falling for you but it's my fault cause I forced my thoughts to manifest like a tattoo, and the physical embodiment of my emotions would rue the day I met you. And you want to know why I'm so frustrated. 

Cause I can't be loved by a black man. Cause God let my skin marinate a little to long in the melanin and now I'm being separated and segregated by a brotha who thinks he's better than. But we belong under the same brethren. Negro. And you still want to know why I'm so frustrated.

Cause I'm being raped by a broken institution of education and my only by-products are miscarriages of my neglected intellect. Schools only hit me up for sex, as I became their smart black Jackpot and learning became my crack pot for which I could never reach that high sence, cause they had laced my intelligence in the false affirmation of a g.p.a. My mind went to school to be educated but my thoughts always left in a state of deprivation. And you still want to know why I'm so frustrated.

Cause my family is the only thing keeping me here, and losing them would be like taking myself off life support, cause I support a family through government assistance. Forget 19 I've been an adult since I was a kid dual enrolled in childhood and paying rent and in my own way I became my own charity event. Picture this. I took my emotions and evacuated them because they became a hindrance. If suicide was an option for my happiness you'd see it hanging from my tree of success. I don't have dreams even my wishes are reality fed, cause reality is my family needs an engineer more than they need someone who can't pay the rent. And you still want to know why I'm so frustrated.

Cause even in my silence they be listening just to get offended by the construction of my sentences, like my presence isn't something they can deal with. Oh Snap it's a black chick I wonder how loud she gets. And I can't speak up and out against it because then I become the person that they say that I am. And you still want to know why I'm so frustrated. 

Cause it's hard to be me but it's not impossible, which makes it all the more frustrating.

A post from the August 2018 Outernet Experience

by Pharroh

I was outside

It’s wild flowers


It’s humid

It’s getting hoter

I saw a fish, made a wish

Seeing fish made me sing

Being hot made me ask why

As I fight the heat

With my hat

As we walk and run

We have fun

The flowers are hairy

These flowers are ordinary

From milk weed

That are sour to towers of pretty flowers

To bocays of flowers that are cowards

From trees to paper water turns to vapor

I see the stars

No car

Still makein’ bars

Still tryin’ hard to go far

Not tryin’ to stay

Stuck in the tar

Tryin’ to throw out my scars

Tryin’ to still run fast in the grass

Outside we’re not tryin’ to get money

we’re tryin’ to eat honey

I just saw a bunny

I heard my grandma say “sunny”

Go outside now

See a light, I need to fly a kite

Now every thing

Is right.

Kalilia's message for Carver performance

This piece is about the difference in education within the households of America. The post apocalyptic decisions parents face and the struggles that lie behind the saying, it takes a village.

Most of you here have heard the term 'it takes a village’. A poster heading that resembles a sense of unity. That it takes a community to raise a child, to produce something with unparalleled value. That it implies love, community outreach and humanity. Most importantly, the collective effort to pass on knowledge needed for children to succeed. After all, knowledge is a big part of how a child views the world.

What they don't tell you is that each Village is different. That each Village has its own gears, ideologies and ways of passing on knowledge. They don't tell you that certain villages carry the burdens of sharing knowledge that doesn't need to be given to children. That they are stripped of their choice before the child takes its first breath.

Let's focus on villages A and B.

In village A knowledge pertaining to violence, hate and death are reserved for the elders. The children in this village do not need to know of such things. They're children after all. Always worrying about what they're getting for their birthday this year. They dream about unicorns, and finding Narnia. About receiving a giant chocolate cake or stumbling upon a fairy or a genie.  

Village A is extremely terrified of Village B because the media they've been consuming for years paints the inhabitants as barbarians. As thugs and murderers. Village A must teach their children to be warriors, and to be cautious. Sometimes the warriors show force that is not needed, however being gentle with their own tribe. They're fascinated with the other villages but they are too unknown to understand.

Village A copies the other villages shamelessly, never fully understanding the power behind it. Example, A Nearby Village builds houses made from bricks and stones. Village A thinks that's cool and so they do it as well. They don't care why or how, they just know they want their houses to be the same. They see that village later on and they say 'gee, what a silly way to build a house.’ The members of village A see nothing wrong with this and praise each other for having strong, reliant housing.

They can afford to be rude, to cheat and lie, to wear their hoodies atop their heads when it's raining. They can afford to take the lives of innocents, and to treat the other villages like they are less than dirt. And despite all this village A does not change.

The children in Village B worry they won't have a birthday at all. They must carry that burden of knowing things like that are possible. They're lucky if they make it and even luckier if they get anything at all. Dreaming about losing someone turns the countless hours of slumber into countless hours of being alert. Dreams turn to wishes and wishes are never fulfilled. They wish for dad to come home this Christmas because he's been wrongfully imprisoned, or maybe that their older brother makes it through the night because a life of being turned away from employment, has  hardened him in the ways of crime.

The children of Village B are told endless stories of death, of struggle, of woe. If they were not, they wouldn't know that they aren't allowed to do certain things. They wouldn't know to be safe always. To watch what they say around everyone, to be polite, and to never put your hoodie atop your head, even if it's raining.

So now, village B must teach their children to turn the cheek when they are profiled, harassed and treated as if they are aliens. Village B must convince their children to ignore the other village, and that the house is fine the way it is. On the continent, hate overrules love. Village B is demonized, mass incarcerated, and torn apart. But the village with the power is absolutely fine. When they do the things Village B does they get second chances. It's only a problem when the other villages do it, because the other villages are just so unknown. And what they don't know scares them.

Village B knows that this is what the other village is thinking; so they must prepare. They must tell their children stories of trauma in the hope that they learn and can be cautious in their day to day life. Comfort their children when they haven't had enough sleep that night. Accept the mysterious bundles of cash their child brings home. Tell them that their wishes will come true. Get them a gift even if they can't afford it. Tell them that the sturdy stone hut they live in is nothing to be ashamed of. Convince them not to slip into darkness and that it'll be okay. Village B must convince their children that Village A isn't all that bad. Village B must convince themselves.

So it does truly take a village to raise a child. It's just that each Village must overcome obstacles that the other village does not. Village B had no choice but to expose their children to the crime, violence, and harsh reality of living in America, while Village A can chose when and how their children acquire that information. It if they need to learn it at all.

So when you hear the phrase it takes a village and you think of unity, what kind of Village are you thinking of? Village A or village B? Because a thing they don't tell you is that they are divided. And that they are different. That they have gears and ideologies and ways of creating that, ‘unity’. That this saying implies love, community outreach and humanity but it is the exact opposite. And last but not least, the one thing that matters most is left out. They don't tell you that

Village B has had enough and their children have had it too.

The end

My Bike Story by Sincere

I was nervous to go down the hill at first. When I went down the hill I felt like I was flying. I pelted and pelted. But then I heard something. A street full of cars was in front of me and my brother.

My brother stop but my brakes was not working. When I got close to the street I saw a rock that can make me stop. When I hit it the rock my chain popped and got caught in my back tire.The chain rubbed on my tire so much that my tire popped and fell off and I slid under the whole street of cars.The last thing I heard my brother said was “Sincere noooo”!

When I woke up I saw my family crying. I asked “Why were they crying?”They look at me and ran over and gave me a big hug. I had to promise not to die before my parents died first .And I have to keep this promise forever.

The End

Works from the Waterloo Schools Opening Day Ceremony

The following pieces were written and performed for the opening day ceremony for Waterloo schools.

School by Lave

School…… I deplore the fact that we can’t wear flip flops and how the Time go tick-tock I’m so glad they don’t pick pockets. I hate on a math problem. That I don’t know and when I can’t find the solution, when we sing the national anthem I get to saluting and in the mornings when I don’t eat breakfast things get a little hectic when I’m sitting in a desk am I too fat or am I too skinny or is it just 'cus this penny weighing me down like a pound a pound of math problems on my shoulders I don’t know where this came from but it just shot through my head like a bullet like the bulletin board on the wall telling me I need a pencil as we’re taking a test a tear drop drop down I’m so embarrassed now everyone is laughing so I shut down like a machine in a factory, but I'm not a machine so I'm going to chase my dreams and express myself.

Untitled by Sophia

Last year, I was in sixth grade at Cedar Heights Elementary. Before that, sure, I liked school. I was good at it, and I had friends. But sixth grade was the year that I woke up excited to go to school. That was the year that I was eager to get out of bed, just because of school. The reason for that was my teacher, Mr. Strassburg. He was one of those teachers, the one that every kid dreams of. He genuinely cared about us. He gave us clear rules, but he gave us room to deviate from or even completely abandon the lesson plan. He didn’t run things with an iron fist. He treated us fairly and respectfully, and he told us funny stories that made us laugh. Oh, look at me, listing off qualities like ingredients on a soup can. The thing is, ingredient labels on soup cans don’t tell you everything. They don’t tell you the warm feeling inside you as you eat it, or the feeling of the noodles sliding down your throat. As such, I can’t do Mr. Strassburg justice by simply listing off qualities like this, by saying empty words. Because words don’t tell you how it feels when he gives you a compliment. Words don’t describe the feeling you get when he’s proud of what you’ve done. They simply can’t. But words are all I have, so I’ll have to make the best of them. And the best I can do with words is this: Mr. Strassburg changed my life for the better, forever.


School Stuff by Gissele

One day my 4th grade teacher looked at me and asked. What do you wanna be when you grow up? At that time in life i wasn't really sure of the answer to that, even now, 4 years later, i still don’t know. I mean the question was confusing to me then and still now. But the worst thing my child like mind thought of being was an adult. Because we all know how much that sucks.

But we all have to grow up sometime. I started growing up the moment i was asked that question. But the moment doesn't even matter. Its the place. I did a lot of my growing up in those very hallways that take their place at school. And as weird as it sounds, I’ve learned life lessons in those halls. I also learned a lot about social lives. When i say social life i mean like interacting with people and being open with people. I used to be the most shy person ever. But one day that all changed.

One day, a teacher gave me feedback on the work i did, they showed me that i had so much potential and how good i was at that whole school work thing. So, I started being brave, i started raising my hands for answers, the more feedback i got the more brave i got. Then i started actually interacting with my peers. I actually made a few friends from being more open. And that made me more surprised than I’ve ever been. I started being more brave more open until, it was just who i was.

 Now i’m in 8th grade stepping up, building up, and growing up. Crazy right?


My Thoughts on School by Daniel

This is a challenge but if you leave your phone unlocked and right side up you’re out the room without throwing teachers off balance, You’re either on or off ain’t no in between when it’s valid, I seem to want to talk more and more about what really matters, so any fall, any wall, any stall, any pause, any cross, any frogs, any fogs, Donald Trump build a wall, build it where it won’t fall give it all, give it my all yeah and you can’t show, any drawls, any bra, anymore, in it raw, I’m in all, common law, Kermit Frog, Stomach wall, Kamika, ze’s are banned as well as I can see, I see you all are puzzled but it’s not up to me, IT’S UP TO YOU


From Advanced Kid Ashley by Ashley

This is more than just an appreciation this is an admiration for the things you have taught and instilled in me. It’s not that you believed in me when no one else would but that you took the time to personally invest in the well being of my mind and my future. The educational courage you’ve given me is a conviction when I become intellectually lazy. Before I never completely believed myself to be  smart but through perseverance on your behalf I’m enlightened on my capability to accomplish anything. Mrs. Schmidt, Mr. Oberhue, Mrs. Wilder, Mr. Roberts, Ms B and countless others help me see myself beyond my grade point average. Therefore, I ask that you continue to enlightened young minds with your kindness because without teachers like you advanced kids would be nothing more than a statistic. I am extremely grateful for the fact that you showed me that I not only need to be successful but also that I want to be successful and that has made the greatest difference in my pursuit of education. To show my gratitude I will live a life that will make you proud to say I had Ashley Woods as a student. - Thank you.

A Copy of "Life" by Gissele Jones

    We were birthed starting with the thoughts of pain and suffering. Some might say we were born seeing all the sorrow in our lives before we even opened our eyes for the first time. Thus being the reason we cry and wail during the very first moments of our life. While  others may say we were kissed by the lips of God before we were dropped into this cruel world, sort of like a “Good luck sweetie” and “Be safe” calling. After that? That’s when we started growing up.

   It started with instincts, from which we learned and took note. Then discipline. Heavily or lightly, we still got it. And then, came the dreams.

   Not sleep tight and good night dreams. These dreams are the ones you reach for. You know, the ones that you stayed up late for, researched for, gave it your all for, those ones. Their big and small, realistic and fanciful. A big and realistic dream, being able to move your family away from their wrecked lives to start anew, or being able to go into an acting career that gives you money and fame.

  Then there's the small fanciful ones. Being able to soar through the sky with peter pan all the way to Neverland, or even being able to slide all the way through the loops of the Coca Cola logo. No matter how big or how small we still had them.

  And that's basically life for you. Of course there might be tragedies or struggle but this piece is optimistic, and will stay optimistic. So thank you for reading, and good bye.


The Words by Lannah

The words haunt me. I lay awake at night tears streaming down my face at the words  haunt me. In school, sitting in class the words haunt me. As I walk down the hall I hear people whisper, adding to the words that haunt.




“Kill yourself”

I say nothing. Keep walking. I tell myself. I get home and walk to my room. I put down my bag then walk to my bathroom. I stare at myself in the mirror tears rolling down my face the words still haunt me. Even as, my blade sunk into my skin the words haunted me.

As I took the last pills that was in my pill bottle I whispered the words that haunted me for so long,

“ I am ugly. I am fat. I am a whore. I deserve this.” With that I slipped under the water and I slowly slipped away. Maybe now the words won’t haunt me.

What do you Think? by author KarMeh



Which is more important?

Most people will choose health

Thinking money will be useless if not well

Most people will choose wealth

‘Cuz who doesn’t want money?

A thought came to me.

If we are not healthy, alive and kickin’

What’s the use of money?

Another thought came (to me)

If we do not have money

How healthy can you be?

For You My Future Daughter By Au Revoir

For you, my future daughter. I shall shower you with love. I will teach you right and wrong. I will protect you from harm. You will learn and grow in a world that doesn’t want you to succeed. You will learn to crawl in a world that wants nothing to do with you or what you stand for. You will take off your training wheels in a world that stacks everything against you. You will dress up for your school dances in a world that hates you because of the color you were born in. But for you, my future daughter, i’ll carry the moon and i'll carry the sun, to make sure you're happy.

Blinking in the light of a fluorescent hospital room, you are born into my loving arms. You are born into discrimination, hate, racism, and point blank intentions of sabotage and thorns. You are born into curfews, because girls like you can’t be outside when it’s dark. Girls like you can’t be out late till dawn, at parties with your friends. You can’t be out that late, what if you need a ride? You can’t walk home at night, what about the police. The people who will swear to protect you, but will kill you in the blink of an eye. You can’t possibly be out there till 3, because if something happens, when something happens you will be one of the only people there with a caramel target on your skin. You can’t go to that side of town, where Tyrone hangs out with his friends, where they sling guns and smoke weed. Where they shoot bullets into the air and rep gang affiliations. Where stray bullets hit bystanders, babies who cannot see them coming. Where they jump each other, where they drink cough medicine out of styrofoam cups. You will not go where Shantay heard her man wanted to “get with you” and she’s grabbing onto your long beautiful locks. Where the women are no longer focused on school work and are causing concussions.  Where there is a lone track on the ground, where there is a braid hanging from the light fixture. You were born into violence.

You giggle as i open my arms to you, your chubby tiny toes wiggle in excitement, you can’t wait to walk. But you don’t know you’re walking into stereotypes. Into the belief that you are loud and sassy and don’t take no for an answer. That you love to eat chicken and watermelon. That grape kool-aid is god’s gift to us. That you are bullheaded and arrogant, distant and ignorant. That weave is a necessity for you. That you will have kids in your teens, that you’ll have 3 baby daddies and live off of child support and food stamps. That your father will leave us and your boyfriend will do the same to you. That you a savage monkey on the prowl for hot cheetos and carmax. That  you own nothing but a smart mouth and a whole lot of sassy behavior. You are walking into stereotypes.

You teeter side to side, unsure if you’ll make it down the street. You grip your handlebars and  your small feet find their ways to the pedals. You are unsteadily riding into discrimination. Riding into the belief that you are less than a human because of your skin. Into the belief that someone is superior because of theirs. That you are nothing. That you shouldn’t vote. That you can’t do certain things, say certain things, achieve and accomplish certain things. The belief that you won’t be able to be what you want. That you will live off the government instead. And you are riding into hate. They will hate you for the melanin that darkens your complexion. The way your beautiful brown and black curls bounce off your shoulders. The way you resemble power, beauty and grace. The way you were created beautiful. That you were created smart. People will try to justify the way they treat you. They will bring up christianity and they will bring up slavery and they will bring up the economy. They will tear your people down, because they are afraid of what they can accomplish. Afraid that one day you will grow into the strong beautiful women i am predicting you will. That one day you will accomplish something they couldn’t. Something they think you shouldn’t. You’re riding into discrimination and hate.

You fix your dress for the 15th time, your espionage of the cute boy across the gym is perfect. Your hair is pretty and curled and this is your night. You ask him to dance and he complies. You are dancing to the rhythm of self hate. The fact that boys your color are no longer interested in the darker girls. They call you a monkey a roach. “You’re too chocolate” they exclaim. They are only interested in the light skin girls. The redbones. The girls with the lighter complexion. They will do this because it is seen as perfect. They are doing this because it is the closest to white without actually being it. They don’t want your african beauty. They don’t want your ebony perfection. And not only the boys but the girls will too. They will call you burnt. They will poke fun about how you will never find a man. About how they will lose you in the dark. When they have been living in it all along. They will bleach their skin, try to scrub the black away. Because they hate their complexion. They hate it because everyone else does. Even people of their own race. Of their own struggle. You are dancing rhythm of self hate.

Your gown flows as you walk across the stage. I am cheering for you as you shake their hands. Your diploma hangs heavy in your hands. You are taking the next step in life. Stepping into pettiness. The pettiness that has settled itself in the belief of kanekalon hair. The white people will say “oh look straight hair, she wants to be one of us.” and it will never be enough. Women will say “oh her weave is crusty. Oh does she not have enough hair? She just wants straight hair. She must be ashamed of her curls. Smh.” But as soon as you take it down they will exclaim, “ ew her hair so short. Crusty edges. Nappy hair ew. She got dandruff. Her hair so rachet. She need to comb it. Why don’t you ever straighten it?” And not only this, but the boys. You will get into a relationship with them and they will fall in love with the way your hair falls over your eyes. Then you will take off your brazilian weave and they will react the same. Yet you will have insecurities about the length of it. So you will crochet it or wear tracks, for the social validation you so desperately crave.You are stepping into pettiness.

You sigh as the butterflies dance around in your gut. Your dress is a pearl white and your bouquet of roses paints a beautiful contrast against it. You walk down the aisle, your head held high. You are committing. You are committing to a lifetime of worry. The worry that you are simply too emotional. If you’re anything like your mother you’ll be told this often. That people will take your heart on your sleeve as a weakness. That you will be constantly shut down because people will somehow always have the power to turn the faucet that leads to your eyes. You will constantly be “in your feelings” but at the end of the day it's not you. Surround yourself with people that won't constantly put you down. That won't constantly begin personal attacks on your sanity. You are committing to being played. Some guy out there's gonna be so dumb to screw you over and lose a goddess. You need to be ready for that sorry son of a gun and be ready for the point where he tries to crawl back to you. You are committing to a lifetime of worry.

But everything in life won’t be negative. Everything might not just be about the struggle. You need to enjoy the beauty of life. Go out, live life. The world is your oyster. You are beautiful you are kind you are amazing. You are the future. You will write to your daughter and she will write to hers. You my future daughter will enjoy every aspect of what the world has to offer you. You my future daughter will be loved. I will love you for you. I will support you for you. I will care for you. I will protect you. I will make sure you are groomed to perfection. You will be graceful, you will be who you want to be. You will be mine. Mine to love and care for like i say i will. Mine to cuddle during the rain. To carpool with your friends. To cherish. To take to the dances and the parties. To give you ice cream and pep talks as a boy takes you for granted. To tie your small shoes. To swing back and forth in my arms. To feed mashed peaches and pears. To hold in the hospital and look into your chocolate eyes. To provide for and to love unconditionally. I will carry the world for you. Move mountains for you. Make sure you are happy. I will do everything in my power to make sure you know you are special. I will make sure you know how much of a queen you are, and that you never give up or settle for less. That you say what is on your mind. That you never let anyone push you around. That you compromise where you can and don’t budge where you can’t. I will raise you right. I will do anything for you. Anything so that you are happy. Anything.

For you, My Future daughter.