poem by Amanda Pruett, age 16

As a woman I am told to be quiet,
Keep it down.
They try to keep me down.
Below you,
On my knees, I exist only in ways that service you.
They want me to hear, not to speak.

Your ignorance sneaks into my ears like smoke,
Your laugh ignites a flame in my chest and it rises to my throat and I will not be silenced.
I slash the tape over my mouth and say everything you are too weak to hear.

I will scream for the people of color who are shot down in the streets every day
Like dogs.
Your right to both bark and bite has been revoked by the Ferguson Police Force until further notice.

I will scream for the women who are told to shut up,
To laugh
To laugh at the rape joke
To laugh at the prospect of being violated in the most horrific way possible.

I will scream for the men who are murdered just because they were born with vaginas.
I guess I thought the only prerequisite for being a “real” man was an absence of empathy.

I will scream for the poor, working three jobs without the money to feed their kids.
Cigar burns from a man named Capitalism make them too ugly for the 1% to look at.

You will not silence my screams until America is the utopia you claim it already is.
I am flawless,
I am flawless because I will never stop fighting against the flaws of this nation,
I am flawless because when you slap my face for speaking up I will stare into yours and speak louder.
I am flawless because I will never be afraid to say that you are not.

2015 Scholastic Writing Awards Silver Key

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