Royce Mann, an eighth grader from Atlanta, Ga., took the Internet by surprise with his poem called, “white boy privilege” that he wrote and recited at his school’s poetry slam contest in May.
In the video recently posted by his mother on YouTube, 14-year-old Mann expresses his thoughts on race, gender and equality issues.
The video has gone viral garnering more than 150,000 views and comments from viewers around the world.
He began the poem by saying how grateful he was to have been born a white male and said that he loved his “white boy privilege.”
“Dear women, I’m sorry, dear black people, I’m sorry… Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper class white boy, I’m sorry,” he recited in his poem. “But I wouldn’t change places with you.”
He goes on to talk about the ways in which life is better for him than minorities and women before adding that things need to change.
He states that because he is white, he can see a police officer and know that he is on his side. He can eat at a fancy restaurant and not be expected “to steal the silverware.” He can worry about what kind of food is on his plate instead of whether or not there will be food on his plate.
In comparing his own life with those of different ethnicity and gender, he challenged white boys to “act like a woman, to be strong and to make a difference.”
The video hit home for many social media users who commented in light of the recent shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and police officers at the Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas.
Mann took home the poetry slam gold for his poem. He said although he did not create this “system,” he and others like him have the power to fix it.
“As I became more aware of my own privilege, I decided that something had to be done,” he told Global News.
“I wanted to help others realize that our society is not as equal as it is made to seem. I knew that change could not come in the presence of denial.”