For The Kids

This is for my kids in the ghetto

who feel like they don’t belong

in a world that’s far too shallow,

content on annihilating us all.


The kids who hide their books from bullies

cause they know far better than we

that books serve no purpose

when we’re begging on our knees

for the lives we’ve yet to live and

accomplishments we’ve yet to achieve.


This is for my kids in the ghetto

who know these blocks like the backs of their hands

these cement lego pieces others claim to be

no man’s land but,

it’s our home

an undercover war zone

we’re fighting for this land,

the only land

we can call our own.


When the only home you’ve ever known

are projects where the population is overgrown

and you never know

who’s a friend

or a foe

and you gotta hang your head low

when walking through Livingston

or Cedar Grove

or else you’ll be turned into a

charity case,


sprayed with mace

by some chick

who doesn’t feel safe

cause you aren’t in her idea of

what is your place.


And this is for my kids in the ghetto

who are merely equated to the state

of their neighborhoods

who are somehow no good,

low down,

dirty dogs


the only barking I hear is from the mouths of those

who think they’re sly

looking at us out the corner of their eyes


grinning really wide

as they brag about how great it is to live

on the other side of


but are thrilled

by the idea of

living like a nigga.


They only equate us to struggle

segregating us like wizards to muggles

but we don’t all live under the stairs.


This is for my kids in the ghetto

who succeed

despite where they grew up

heads held high while

wearing those dirty ass chucks

or clean new jays

their minds are dead set on the come up

embracing lives lived in

so many different ways.


Who is society to say

that some little black lives are worth more than others

to save?

Pretending that little black girls in weaves haven’t been

crucified for days,

or the ladies with multi-colored braids

aren’t made into jokes

but when Becky does like we do

it’s always



This is nothing but a

representation of my mind

spent so many years building this ladder

so now it’s time to climb

we’re on our way to the top,

there’s no stopping us now,

little kids from the ghetto,

don’t let society steal your crowns.


As one little ghetto kid

to all of the others,

the flames of your passions

can never be smothered.

Our stories are dynamic

we’re not all the same

our ghettos may be called

by many different names,

but our one commonality is

we’re all just seeking change.

 By Aaliyah Barnes

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