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Mariama Savage, 19

Mariama Savage, the daughter of two Sierra Leonean immigrants, is from Boston, Massachusetts, and an avid writer and proponent for bettering her community as well as recognizing global strife and taking action to fight it. Savage’s writing revolves around the idea of sharing stories about the world around her through the lens of extended metaphors. As a Sierra Leonean-American Muslim woman, Savage struggles with upholding her culture in addition to being true to herself including her sexuality and her discontent with her world. She often writes about the experiences of others, rather than herself, because she finds it difficult reflecting on the obstacles that hit close to home for her. Savage notes that the people she writes about are similar to her in more ways than one, and that writing their experiences offers her catharsis.

Savage is the 2018 Massachusetts Louder Than A Bomb Individual Grandslam Champion, a youth leader in her jama (Sierra Leonean Islamic community), and a counselor at her alyakayu (Arabic school). She was nominated by several teachers to participate in Summer Search, completing a North Carolina Outward Bound Course consisting of expedition hiking, white water rafting, and mountain climbing in 2015. Savage has also collaborated with an isolated community in Costa Rica, planning and executing grassroot projects that aim to protect and empower the rain forest communities. Savage has served as a member of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Boston Area Health Education Center for the last four years and is on the executive board and serves as the Marketing Outreach Manager for BPHC’s Youth Advisory Board, which aims to combat cultural stigma and bridge the gap that keeps many from accessing mental health resources.

She believes the world could always use much more empathy and awareness. She recognizes the tendency of most to turn a blind eye to victims of hardship because they have not personally experienced it. After working in Costa Rica, Savage was astonished at the realization that Americans have been conditioned to only worry about themselves rather than open their eyes to what's happening in the world around them: children washing up dead on beaches; girls having their genitals mutilated and married to men three times their age; men being stoned for their sexual orientation. Savage wants this insensitivity to change with her generation: there can never be progress without the moral inclination to look beyond ourselves and ask what we can do for our community.

Savage will attend University Massachusetts Lowell for her first year, and plans on studying both creativing writing/journalism and neuroscience, and hopes to work alongside people similar to herself in addressing problems within their own community. She hopes to find a career that uplifts and inspires others, and is an intersection between writing and health care.


Poetic Justice

by Mariama Savage


A boy cut off my hair in the 7th grade

and I still have yet to forgive myself


He called me a weavy wonder

in a class full of other Black children

yet I still felt stranded

Wished my curls could spring into action

But felt all too trapped in a maze of braids

where every turn

was just another dead end,

to do anything


In highschool I’ve had boys run their fingers through my kinks

and insist I ought to relax

Rough palms and lulled voiced

Attempt to turn me,

from statue into a body of water

But Black girls aren't supposed to get their hair wet anyway


I soon learn that

My dark and lovely has never been creamed enough to fit anyone's standards


What do you call it when your own people

encourage you to colonize your roots?


If hair had memory

A lineage of African woman before me

Would do all they could not to drag you back to yours



No 4c could have foreseen this

How Black girl

Gets told she has slave stained curls


So we

Drag them back to the Atlantic

Where hair was as tightly packed

as ancestors on slave ships

To a time

When black bodies were being used as anchors

And culture + customs were the only things

To keep us afloat


Here is where we learned liberation

And hair is what brought with us history


So you boys

With your spinning brushes and durags

Y'all drown us in discomfort

But forget who put the motion in your ocean,

Preach that black hair has been the wave

But act like like ya momma aint got a head full of fuzz too


The same niggas with

beady beads and a receding hairline

Will claim the only thing tight about a woman should be her pussy

And condemn

A sistah for wearing tracks

But forget

That there was a time when our

Hair gave y'all life

That runaways

Once depended on the patterns etched onto our scalps

These cornrows once lit up a path to freedom

Aided only by Harriet Tubman and the North Star

So believe me when I say

legacy dangles from every loc

Without us

Would you know deh weh?


Soon after,

It became clear that the conditions for our survival could be seen through our roots


Some days I question if this hair has ever truly been ours

Cause wypipo have been

Pic-ing at our locs



In 1979

When Bo Derek wore cornrows for the first time and

Soon after many other white women copied the style


Before this they’d

Call our hair kinky

Call it nappy

Call it dirty, dreadful and unkept

but never beautiful

Or mine


How even now

Kylie’s out here trynna

Hold a candle to my roots


But this hair was made to filter heat

So with edges laid and pressed to silk

Don't think I won't bring a fire to your neck


The next time y’all wanna talk about good hair


Just remember

A Tender head wasn’t going to pave the way to civil rights

And what magic how

Even shrinkage serves as the perfect metaphor

For this blackness

How we, black woman

Can stretch a little into going a long way


I want to tell them that black hair was once a mothers prayer

That history pride and pain weaves themselves into my cornrows

Every night

I tie my scarf


Like dont y’all know


Black women have been wearing bonnets since bondage

Whipping our hair since massahs been cracking whips


Willow’s peak


Since then my crown has been nothing but tight fisted curls

it’s learned how to put up a fight

Has been bobbing and weaving self hate

And heat

By means of coconut oil

For as long as I can remember


now my naps stay woke

My curls too poppin’ to be pressed

But Jaylin maybe I should still fade you