In a society obsessed with validation through the opinions of others, the young poet Justine Keys writes to go against the grain. She makes a call to figure out our self-worth from within. The next poem is a statement of strength, an invitation to reject the opinions of people that try to take us down.
Are you mad because I am different?
Well, don’t be because we cannot all be the same and I am happy being me.
My skin color isn’t the same as yours,
the curl pattern of my hair is different,
my eye color may not be the one that you find the most pretty, but SO WHAT, I am still me.
I may not always rock the latest fashions,
but I always make sure that I look my best
and I am the flyest version of myself when I step out.
You don’t like my outfit today?
SO WHAT, I am still me.
Yeah, every year cellphone companies come out with a new phone
to snatch everybody’s money up.
I don’t have the latest gadget, but one that works just fine.
I gained a few pounds from eating delicious food.
SO WHAT! My health is still intact.
I drive a 2002 Toyota.
SO WHAT, it’s paid for in full.
It took me more than four years to complete my college.
SO WHAT. At least I never gave up the dream of walking across the stage.
You wanna talk about me? That’s fine
Just make sure the people that you mention my name to know that I am different,
a one of a kind masterpiece.
Make sure those people who stand by to listen to you
know that I am unique in every sense of the word.
They have their opinions about me?
COOL! SO WHAT! I AM STILL ME!
Photos by Bryan Adam Castillo.