A 14-year-old stood up in front of his eighth-grade class in May and delivered what is now "being celebrated as the definition of responsible self-analysis by a white American," per Fusion. In a viral video posted two weeks ago, Royce Mann of Atlanta begins his poem "White Boy Privilege" by apologizing to "everyone who isn't a middle- or upper-class white boy," reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I have started life on the top of the ladder while you were born on the first rung," he says. "To be honest, I'm scared of what it would be like if I wasn't on the top rung … and I didn't have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me," he continues. But "there's enough blankie to be shared … It's time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge."
Royce says his first attempt at slam poetry—viewed almost half a million times and shared by Empire actress Taraji P. Henson—came from his learning about white privilege in class. "I got really passionate about how unfair it is," he says. People judge groups too quickly, whether it be "all black people this" or "all police that," he adds. "We just don't see people as individuals. That's at the root of a lot of our issues." He says he's received some flak, but the poem was him "just trying to do my part" to bring about change. "It will be a long time, but I think within my lifetime, we'll see a lot of progress," he tells HLN, per CNN. Following police shootings and the murder of officers in Dallas, Royce says he's considering writing a second poem. (A white man says no one would publish his poem until he changed his name.)