The following poem by Nikeya Shivani Tankard won the Robert Hayden Black History Month creative writing contest hosted by the NAACP Martha’s Vineyard Branch Youth Council. The prompt was What Does Black History Mean To You? The author is a sophomore at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School

I am just as human as you
Whether my complexion is black or gray or blue
Though to those who pursue
Such statements untrue
You may inspect me, within and through

Grip my nap, nape, and wrap
My coils around your sturdy fist
Pull with all your might,
Twist, don’t resist
To find the root of such a crown,
An orchestra of curly mound
Such hair so mesmerizing and renowned

Even as you trace a tear down my check,
Glistening and cryst
That doesn’t prove I am human like you,
Persist, If you so insist

So, cut through my skin
Since we aren’t akin
View me as your personal steed
From there my brown will bead
Of crimson bleed
With the taste of sweetened tin

Grab a hold of my rib cage,
A hand on each counterpart,
Arch my back and pull outward
To reveal, I do have a heart

It beats for my people
It beats for me and you
It beats for the poor, the hungry,
The hatred fueled

My voice screams for the lost lives,
Brothers and sisters of unruly crimes
We aren’t your playthings
We aren’t your concubines

But for one month
You stitch us up
And bandage the wounds you inflict
The pain we’ve undergone
The blood you’ve drawn
Is licked
In order to avoid conflict

But the cuts seep far too deep
Within each of our souls
You hold the whip
You reap the “rip”s
With or without your extol
No matter it be June, March or February
Warm, rainy, or cold
We all know
who is truly in control