BCPS Teacher Leads Second Year Of Racial Justice Poetry Contest
BALTIMORE COUNTY - As racial justice issues came to the forefront of public conversation during the pandemic, one Baltimore County public school teacher saw an opportunity to guide students through these complex topics.
Justin DePrima, an English language arts teacher at Dumbarton Middle School, has announced the second year of the "systemwide racial justice poetry contest."
According to BCPS, DePrima started the contest after students expressed interest in the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd.
"To compete with all the distractions available to students while learning from home," DePrima explains, "I asked my classes what they wanted to learn. Several students had questions about the Black Lives Matter movement. Their inquiries were understandable given the amount of media coverage of BLM as people responded to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Brianna Taylor, and George Floyd."
DePrima received many outstanding submissions to the contest, including this poem highlighted on BCPS's website, written by a student named Maren Blanks.
A poem by Maren Blanks begins:
This is not my poem to write
This never has been, never will be, never is
This isn't my poem to write because my ancestor's blood
Does not run through the veins of the Capitol's walls
Because I've never been chased from stores,
Curses spit at my heels like venom
I have no place in this discussion
Unless it's to uplift
To support the chorus
To hand my microphone to silenced voices
Otherwise, I should really shut the hell up
See here to read more students' poems, find information about the program, and hear more from DePrima.
For the 2022-2023 school year, the contest is accepting entries from students in Grades 6 – 12.
Entries are being accepted now through 11:59 p.m. on March 1, 2023. Students in Grades 6 – 12 in Baltimore County public, parochial, and independent schools and homeschooled children in Baltimore County can apply.
Poems must be original and no more than three pages long.
Contest details, prize information, and a submission form can be found on Schoology in the resource folder for teachers of Secondary English Language Arts. Teachers from other content areas may contact Mr. DePrima or the English office for access.