Carnegie Mellon University

"The 'Dirty' Mirror" by Kyle Burnett

Honorable Mention for College Poetry

When I was younger
I was a naïve, little boy
After I was told to sit in the back of the Christmas Musical
I did
Never questioned it
Because I thought I was not as good of a singer as the people in the front

When I was younger
I was a naïve, little kid
When I was told that I don’t sound uneducated
I thanked them
I asked “Aren’t I learning like everybody else?”
Because I thought they were giving me a compliment

When I was younger
I knew more, but I was still a naïve, little teenager
After being told that I should avoid an area
I questioned it
I asked “Aren’t I just like them? Didn’t the Constitution say we are all created equally?”
Because I thought people wouldn’t hate me when they didn’t even know me

When I was younger
I knew a little more than I did before, but I was still a naïve, young man
My dad told me to not look suspicious to a man holding a badge
I was confused
I asked “They shouldn’t treat me differently than anyone else, right?”
Because I understood at that time that discrimination is rightly wrong

When I was older
I was a man
And I was called “negro boy”
A low-life
A criminal
At that point I stopped asking questions 
I began to challenge thought
I began to challenge restraint
Because I knew that those feelings people had were wrong
That is when I knew that I had grown up
That is when I knew I was a mature, black man 
And I saw it clearly
Like I was staring into a mirror
After I wiped the dirt off

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