Coexist Poem and Performance




By: Elise Dimick

Intro: Heritage Fair is a time to celebrate our cultures, identities, and differences. In light of this, I wrote this poem to acknowledge the inequality that still exists and hopefully inspire you to be sensitive to people’s identities:


Oppression sounds like something from the past.

It sounds like a big word

that we’ve heard

in history class

with black and white pictures

and small font captions

when black men were lynched from tall trees

and women’s voices

could only be heard in the confines of houses

And people of color

weren’t even allowed to buy those houses

It sounds

like something from the past.

But then I listened.


I listened to the whole song of humanity

and heard the bass

That endless rhythm that runs

on the bottom of the human race

I heard the gunshots

and choke holds

the wage gaps

and rape stats

people hiding in the closets

condemned for their love

I heard racism in the airport

and racism with the police

A sexual woman is a slut

but a sexual man is not

I hear people inferior for their sexuality

their culture

or religion

I heard it

louder than the riots after Ferguson


I heard the media tell us to look a certain way


you need lighter skin

and longer legs

and if you can’t shed some weight

maybe you can shed your tears

until your knees hit the cold bathroom tile

face in your hands

fingers picking at the flaws

like sharpie stains on your skin

that you just can’t remove

wondering what you did to deserve

this curse of ugliness?

Because someone told us we can only find self worth

in our appearance


the media tells us we should keep up with the Kardashians

but not keep up our confidence

It seems like no one   

has a good relationship with the mirror anymore.


I heard racism sneak through our halls

people throw around the

n-word and FOB

do you even know the history?

you may not be racist outrightly

but aren’t you subtly

perpetuating white supremacy

I heard someone ask

why black people were so butthurt about Ferguson,

“it’s not like THEY experienced slavery”.

I heard someone say to my muslim friend

“Go back to your country towelhead”

People saying they have “Jungle Fever”

and “Yellow Fever”

someone even told me they thought

mexicans were dirty.


and yeah, racist jokes can be funny

and light hearted

but we must remember that minority groups

are still called “minority groups”


I’ve heard people are FINE when they see the letters

LGBTQ on paper

but appalled when they take a human form

condemning the boy who likes boys

and the girl who likes girls

and the kid who fails to conform to gender roles at all

enforcing the idea that we ALL

must be cis-gendered and straight

calling people faggots

and saying “that’s so gay”

society seems to say

if you’re not normal

you should be afraid


I don’t know why we are so afraid of individuality

but we seem to mask our fear with negativity

When did the word “Unique”

come to mean “inferior”?



just MAYBE

someone is different than you

different race, culture, or religion too

maybe they’re heavier, disabled, transgendered, or gay

or maybe they’re just a little weird

but that’s not to say

they are less

that’s not to say

they don’t deserve your respect


I wish oppression stayed in the history books

and people could find value in character

instead of in looks

i wish people could be friends with the mirror

and accept themselves

but that can only happen

if we accept everybody else

it’s hard enough when the media tells us

we’re not good enough

or white enough

straight enough

or smart enough

but it’s even harder when our peers tell us too.


so let’s all sing our own notes

because it’s the variety

that makes the harmony

and if anything

Usac is a place to be in harmony

it’s a place to celebrate our differences

unite our cultures

races and colors

and accept one another


Now I may sound like a barefoot, granola hippie

but my message is this:

if everyone opened their minds

we can ALL



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