What do you do when you hear poetry that might offend you? Well, obviously you ban it... even if it was written and performed by a 7-year-old girl. Autum Ashante was invited to read a poem to Peekskill, N.Y., middle school and high school students last month. She read her work, "White Nationalism Put U in Bondage." Here's a snippet of the poem from the New York Post:
Black lands taken from your hands, by vampires with no remorse.
They took the gold, the wisdom and all the storytellers.
They took the black women, with the black man weak.
Made to watch as they changed the paradigm of our village.
Yeah white nationalism is what put you in bondage.
Pirates and vampires like Columbus, Morgan and Darwin.
Ashante also asked students to take a Black Panther pledge not to harm one another. Melvin Bolden, the teacher who invited her, said Autum is now "unofficially" banned from performing in the school district. Bolden says, "[The poem] might have been a little too aggressive for what the middle-school kids are ready to handle." The school sent a voice mail to hundreds of parents apologizing.
Now, I'm not commenting on how good the poem is... but you would think middle-schoolers might be able to handle a 7-year-old's writing. I guess they'll have to miss out on Langston Hughes "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," and the speeches of Malcolm X. They might find them a "little too aggressive" as well. It wouldn't be right for our children to have their minds exposed to that at such an impressionable age.