“As today’s youth we are trying to use our voices and artistic talents to save and conquer the world”, says Jo’burg-based poet, Tshiamo Rampora. “We speak up and attack societal injustice and pressures using art. Our art is our voices.”
Written in response to the #blacklivesmatter movement, I Am Today’s Youth is a lamentation of black pride and pain in the past and present that calls for a better future. It grieves the stolen innocence of black people who are forced to take activist roles in their youth. It says: “I stand by you in spirit and voice”.
I Am Today’s Youth
We speak. We post. We scream at the top of our lungs. And yes you hear us. But do you actually listen. Do you comprehend the messages we are trying to convey. Do you react to the words that come out of our mouths. Do you actually feel the pain in our voices. Or are we losing our voices for a cause you do not believe in. Am I an activist? No I am not. Am I a feminist? I am most definitely not. And yes I am not an environmentalist either. I am a part of the youth. A young black poet is what you can call me. I am supposed to be writing about my teenage love affairs and how the moon brings me so much peace. But instead I am writing about how my black brothers are killed by people who are supposed to be protecting them. About how I cannot walk around the streets embracing my femininity. And about how my skin colour has become a threat. We are born into a society where we have to learn to use our voices and skin colours as weapons. It breaks my heart how the black youth is paying for sins our forefathers did not commit. Our youth has become soldiers in a war that won’t come to an end until generations before us learn to co-exist in harmony. We are products of incredible black men and women who still remain to be oppressed by the system. Hence we fight. You must be disappointed to hear that we will forever remain unarmed. The only deadly weapons we hold is our pride, our melanin and our voices. So I suggest you stand down and hold your fire.
Tshiamo Rampora is currently studying at the University of Witswatersrand.
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Words: Zoya Pon
Images : Jesse Jewelzzz