Keshawn Townsend is from Cincinnati, Ohio, where he is a junior at Aiken New Tech High School. In the eighth grade, he was introduced to a nonprofit organization called Word Play. His experience there gave him the biggest opportunity of his lifetime: the chance to perform. Ever since that moment, he has devoted himself to be an advocate for Word Play and their cause. His performances granted him even more opportunities including a sponsored trip to New Taipei City, Taiwan, to study Taiwanese culture. Townsend’s passions include pursuing knowledge about Asian culture, culinary arts, visual arts, and performing arts.

Townsend always weaves his passions into his writing. He is most proud of his ability to draw inspiration from his interests. Writing allows Townsend to express himself in multiple ways; in turn, he hopes that his generation will be able to find their spark in life and express themselves to the fullest extent. Townsend has always been optimistic about his generation even with issues most people would call superfluous. He believes there is always a rainbow at the end of a storm. His positive mindset and joy for the day to come is infectious to those around him. Townsend says he wants to shine like a beacon for those with no voice, and be a megaphone for those whose voices are not heard.

Townsend plans to go to college to pursue his interests in the culinary arts, theater, or aerospace engineering.



by Keshawn Townsend

I could stand before you and scream my mind off

Presenting to you the animal they call us

Fierce teeth growling viciously prey upon our next victims

Slob running down ours mouths falling onto the empty nest of lost children we left behind

I could stand before you and scream to you about the bad things

Expressing the need for justice . Leaving no imprint of good on this rusting world we call home

Yet a distorted home, a glitchy, flickering home

We do not feel safe inside this 20 x 20 home

Cause we still are counting off 20 by 20 souls

I could stand in front of you and express that the pigment of my skin doesn't define me

My enriched brown sugar, created by the hands of gods

Passed down by generation to generation

Slang from generation to generation

I must’ve missed it for I speak too proper

I must’ve missed it for I have no ghetto on this tongue

My tongue is my vine and my speech was my rose

I can present to you the person you want or the person I am

If only that option was a choice, to be myself

Yet the myself isn’t good enough unless the pigment of my skin glows lighter

It gets me thinking when I was a little kid

My imagination blossomed asking powerful unanswered questions

What if words were alive? **

What if words could feel?**

What if Racism had a mind? **

What would Racism say?**

Would it be mad since it has been manipulated to this day?

Racism is a learned attribute, a mental illness for those who are weak

“Oh you can’t get away from the fact that god made created the racist”

God created one racist the human race… The human created the racism

We are born into a racist society, into an unfair society

“Well life isn’t fair” says the society afraid of sharing power

Afraid to share the truth to the upcoming generation

A month ago I came across Jane Elliot the mastermind of the Blue eye Brown eye experiment

This experiment was to focus on racism, I advise you to watch her videos

One thing that caught my eye was that she spoke truth

She spoke with truth

She spoke with wisdom and knowledge and she didn’t let anything steer her away from her goal

She focused on making a positive difference in racism

She explained that Racism is a curable trait, a curable illness…

Jane Elliot is a white woman, who understood racism a bit more that I did a few months ago

We describe America as a melting pot. Right?, America is exactly like melting pot.

Melting away uniqueness and pushing individuality away..

Instead let’s be a salad bowl, blending our flavors together

Bending together working together having every piece retain its individuality and uniqueness but Empowering our flavors to make each other stronger.

Before we can gather there, we have to take steps

When we are born into this society, we are soon introduced to a racist school system

Influencing that my black trails are just slaves and yes suhs

Empowering that racism is the root of all of this country

That slavery is the root of my bones, N’ hard labor is what powers my soul

We didn’t teach truth then why now? If not now, when?

Progress is better than an old hand me down mattress

I love the pigment of my skin, I didn’t choose it and I can’t lose it

It’s something I have to live with day by day

The enriched brown sugar coating my skin

Will be passed down to my generation and generation

What do I want them to remember me by? My generation and generations

This poem… This poem which is called Shade.. This poem which seeks out the truth.. This poem that wants answers…. This poem which calls out school systems…. For our colours goes from the whitest of whites and the blackest of blacks.. We all can learn from this, but you have to choose if you want to listen