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Black History Month Art Contest 
2024 Winners




By Gisele Cediel




by Babirye & Najuna Kiggundu

knee to the neck

we can’t breathe

shot to the chest

we cant breathe

stabbed by the knife of injustice

we cant live


when can we breathe?

his nubian skin blessed by the earth

less like a beauty more like a crime

hood on, for comfort

shot dead, just cuz

hands in his jeans, coins rattling

beaten to death, just cuz

each black birth, a new prison cell

waiting to be filled by its prisoner

her destiny, set before her birth

deemed adult at 15

her kinky coils wrap her head

less like a gift, more like a burden

her beauty is unbeknownst to those around her


because all they see is





angry black girl

but what about the real us?

the girls you don’t see


when you’re blinded by what you WANT to see

our history, twisted into one of pain and torture

yet they forget our rich diaspora

carved from the backs of our ancestors


is more than







but is the chance for every young soul

to create their own destiny


The Darker Shades of Brown

                by Da’Shemé Hosley

The darker shades of brown

used to thrive

In the motherland

In rays of sun

with only melanin as a defense


Free to have culture

Free to express art

Free to be brown

Free to be black


European conceit and prejudice

Turned into steel chains

Latching onto

and hauling brown skin

into a land of revulsion

and intolerance

a land where we’re told

we weren’t meant to thrive

The darker shades of brown

Mixed into a society

that doesn’t want us in it

That ignores us

That Rejects us

Black and white

Oil and water

We’re thrown into a place where

We’re told our God given

nose shapes and mouth widths

are bizarre

We’re told our lingo is absurd

And our mannerisms, improper

We’re told we’d look better light

When our melanin blossoms

in the radiant sun

We’re told not to group up

‘Cause we may look duplicitous


But we were taken from a land

where congregation contained

song and dance

We’re told we look better light

When family affection

wraps me in arms of chestnut

and dark mahogany

We’re told not to group up

Because we’ll scare minds

that are already made up

about a darker shade of brown

Minds that think that

a shade of brown dark enough

is frightening

is evidence

is inferior

A shade of brown dark enough

is dangerous


If a shade of brown is dark enough

when they raise their hand

it’s to strike and not to wave

When they enter a store

it’s to steal and not buy

When they wear a hoodie

it’s sinister and not style

When a darker shade of brown

holds something

What they hold in their hands

is not a phone

Or a wallet

Or their license

Or a bag of groceries

Or a toy

Or a pack of skittles

They hold permission to be struck down

Because if your a shade of brown dark enough

If your hair curls are ‘too tight’


‘Hood’ mannerisms naturally

slip off of your tongue



your dose of melanin is simply ‘too much’

You’re told to forget

Forget achieving equality

Or acceptance

Give up on your future

Forget your history

The tell us forget our history

like it was all whips

and chains and cotton

But it was not

Our history is abolition of injustice

And resistance of intolerance

Our history is trend setting and

effortless influence on culture

Our history is hair that defies gravity

and is put in styles

beautiful enough to be framed

Our history is music that constructs

and emits passion

They tell the darker shades of brown

to forget our history

But our history is brown

Our history is black

and there is nothing

more beautiful than that

3The Hair Salon - Gisela Cediel.jpg
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