A’LYRIC THOMAS, 17
A’Lyric Thomas, born and raised in New Orleans, is a writer and a part of 826 New Orleans’ Youth Editorial Board, a youth-run editorial committee that publishes one book per semester. The first book was part of a social justice project called the Good Trouble Makers Project, inspired by Representative John Lewis’s idea of creating “good trouble, necessary trouble.” Within the last two years, Thomas has been apart of publications like There Is No School Without Us, a literary discussion between faculty, and students about the problems in New Orleans’ school systems, We Are, an anthology of poetry, short stories, photography, etc., and forthcoming in the summer of 2019, This Is My Happy Face: 10 New Orleans Youth have a Conversation Surrounding Mental Health. Thomas is working with editorial board to create an anthology with the writing of youth across the nation, giving an opportunity for high school students to have their fine art, poetry, and short stories published.
For as long as she can remember, Thomas has been writing. Her short stories and poetry are driven by her advocacy for youth who cannot advocate for themselves or are systematically oppressed. Thomas believes that writing and art can serve as a platform for victims of injustice and for youth wanting to use their voice to advocate for others. She has attended social justice events like the Know Your Rights Camp, and believes programs like these are important for today’s youth. Thomas has spoken at events like the Mayor’s Inaugural Office of Youth and Families fest, on a panel at the 2018 Music & Words Festival. Thomas draws great inspiration from New Orleans Youth Open Mic (NOYOM), youth poetry organization, as a performer and her menteeship by nationally-recognized artists. NOYOM has helped shape Thomas into the spoken word artist she is today and pushed her to co-organize Young Poets With Visions (also known as Echo), a community of teens that identify as writers & poets. This group provides young artists the opportunity to share and critique each other’s writing and serves as a conduit for other opportunities like performing at public events and collaboration with other young artists in New Orleans.
America: Unitedly Divided
by A’Lyric Thomas
Eyes see peaceful protesting for peace
has only ended in violence
at the hands of those that hold the power,
As the voice of the people is silenced.
They will show you the peaceful protests, petitioning, and anything next to breathing to make us seem violent..
But what they won’t broadcast is the tear gas that burned our eyelids.
When the waters washed Puerto Rico’s shores, America turned a blind eye then.
How many hashtags must go viral before the homicide, I mean, genocide ends.
Every which direction
I direct my attention toward
for even just a second,
a privileged-prejudice is
“protesting” against protests and
causes that do not concern them.
Victims that die at the hands of another man’s gun is normalized.
Another black woman gone missing,
This is all normal, right?
What matters is what’s meant for us to see in the mass media that social media convinces us is prevalent or relevant as a distraction from what is actually happening around us.
Politicians like false prophets polluting our lives with lies, partaking in false promises to our people.
Tears are all too familiar of which way to fall across my face,
they fall fast and without warning, leaving me with no say in the matter.
Tears that tread down my cheeks, tracing the patterns in which they fell the last time;
as they fell for Trayvon Martin,
as they fell for Eric Garner,
as they fell for Sandra Bland.
Just as tears
that want nothing more
than to just feel the embrace of their parents,
and are being ripped from their parents’ arms as we speak.
Tears taste like salt water words that scream “I can’t breathe”
America, land of the free and the home of the brave;
only the brave are deported
“Ancestors of ours are screaming from the graves, because physically we’re free, but we’re still some mental slaves.” — Dee-1