×
Grades 9–12
Poetry
Writing

The Achilles Heel

by Salma Khalif, 826 MSP

Salma Khalif is a graduate of South High School and is now a freshman at the University of Minnesota majoring in computer science. She’s been writing short stories on the side since she was a child with a huge passion for literature. In the next few years, Salma hopes to publish more. She has a huge interest in Multicultural Black Diaspora Literature, which has led to her minoring in Black/African Studies.

As a Black Woman,

We care,

We share,

We love,

We wouldn’t even dare to receive.

From the emotional pain and heartache we bare,

To the hatred for us that everyone breeds.

It’s ok, Black Women, it’s okay.

They see you as strong, they see you as brave.

The shadow behind the hero who doesn’t get an ounce of credit.

It’s expected.

Someone they can spill their thoughts to, full of rotting decay.

It’s ok, Black Women, it’s okay.

If your counterparts won’t protect you,

Then I will.

Let go of the invisible burden on your shoulder

And rest on me.

You are not as strong as you perceive,

You just had to be.

To survive in a world that wouldn’t cater to you.

Be gentle, be weak,

I’ll protect you even as you sleep.

Be feminine, be “fleek.”

You are “that woman” for most, labeled off as disposable,

You are “my woman” though.

Worth your weight in pearls and gold, just like Beyoncé wrote.

Black Women, we are the blueprint for femininity.

***

This piece was published in Rehumanize Me: A Black Youth Anthology (2022). Rehumanize Me is a collection of poems, essays, and other creative works by 14 young Black authors from Minneapolis, brought to you by 826 MSP.

See more Writing at this level

Grades 10–12
Writing
I’m Not Home But I Am

by Sally Phan, 826 Boston

Memoir
Narrative

A memoir that questions the idea of home and how it changes with time.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Wrong Black Boy

by Oriel, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, an echoing question strikes a chord and reveals the tragic loss held within systemic injustice.

Grades 8–9
Writing
Yerba Buena Gardens/Jardines de Yerba Buena

by Christian Z., Age 14, 826 Valencia

Poetry

A poet recounts his day out at the Yerba Buena Gardens.

Grade 11
Writing
These Walls

by Augustus Griffith Jr., 826 National

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem explores the aftermath and lasting impacts of school shootings.

Grade 10
Writing
The Heart of a Dominican / El Corazón de un Dominicano

by Raymond A., Grade 10, 826 Boston

Poetry

A bilingual poem that expresses the love of one's culture and people

Grades 8–12
Writing
It Might Not Always Disappear

by Sian Laing

Narrative

When Instagram becomes an unsightly battlefield.

Grade 10
Writing
All Humans Are Equal: A Call for Immigration Reform

by Cindy, 826LA

Informational
Persuasive

A student compellingly argues that immigrants deserve respect and to be free of discrimination.

Grade 11
Writing
Finding Myself in Desire and History

by Raheem, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

A student compares themself to the place they live, New Orleans, as both evolve through great obstacles.

Grades 9–12
Writing
A Glitch in the System

by Soraya, 826NYC

Poetry

This student’s powerful piece reveals the essence of racial injustice.

Grades 8–9
Writing
The Saga Continues

by Calvin, 826michigan

Narrative

A laugh-out-loud personal narrative about a crush. Has your heart ever beat so fast it might get a speeding ticket and a $500 fine?

Grade 12
Writing
The Heart of New York

by Matthew Inoa, 826 NYC

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student describes how essential workers are the pulse of New York, fueling the city’s hope.

Grade 11
Writing
How the Time Has Come to Be

by Kaleo V.C., Age 17, 826 Valencia

Memoir

A high schooler looks back on his first day of kindergarten and how it's impacted his life.

Grades 10–11
Writing
In Between

by Joanne H, 826 Valencia

Poetry

In this poem, a student’s experiences in two countries meld together as she seeks out her true home.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Beat of the Drum

by Aniah, 826 MSP

Poetry

A student is lifted up by the dance of her ancestors.

Grades 8–9
Writing
Confused

by Anonymous, Grade 8, 826 Boston

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on identity.

Grade 10
Writing
I Write

by Sabrin, 826 MSP

Poetry

The written word is a powerful tool, and this poem shares a few reasons why the author continues to write.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Dandelion

by Elizabeth W, 826 Valencia

Poetry

Even though we may look different, we remain united with one another.

Grade 11
Writing
America’s Hatred

by Quardasha Mitchell, The 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

In this compelling poem, the author navigates her relationship with America as a young African-American woman.

Grade 9
Writing
The Great Under

by Kyla Edwards, 826 New Orleans

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

This creative short story explores a snapshot of what a future New Orleans might look like amid climate change.

Grades 10–11
Writing
When Mean Girls Attack

by Tammy Fong, 826NYC

Memoir
Narrative

A soccer-filled, feud-fueled memoir.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Me

by Numan Khan, age 16, 826 Boston

Poetry

A bilingual "I am" poem filled with conviction and courage.

Grade 10
Writing
She, He, Them

by Savannah, 826NYC

Narrative
Poetry

Using dialogue and detailed description, this poet investigates whose voices are heard and whose voices are left behind when injustice occurs.

Grades 11–12
Writing
I Took My First Steps…

by Maria, Grade 12, 826 Boston

Narrative
Persuasive

In this public narrative, a student makes the case for creating community change by building youth centers in her neighborhood.

Grades 7–9
Writing
My Language

by Fahima Dahir, 826 MSP

Poetry

A poem about the strength and limitations of language and shared culture.

Grades 8–9
Writing
Ode to My Grandfather

Amara, 826 New Orleans

Poetry

An ode celebrating an important figure in this student’s life.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Nothing New to Us

by Julianna Cruz, 826 Dallas Project

Informational
Narrative

This narrative piece contemplates the struggle of immigrants during the pandemic.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Stupid Blue Screen

by Vanessa Ramon-Ibarra, 826DC

Narrative
Poetry

Living in the digital world can create unwanted attachments, as one student laments.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Haunting Picture

by Jazlyn Moses, 826 National

Narrative
Persuasive

One student explores their online persona and the lasting importance of conscientious social media practices.

Grades 11–12
Writing
De Werito A Prieto

by Katya Torres, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative
Poetry

This bilingual poem explores the harrowing story of a boy working while in school to save his mother.

Grade 11
Writing
To My Dearest, Vivianne

by Abby S., Grade 11, 826 Boston

Fantasy/SciFi

An author reflects on their correspondence with their friend from the past.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Home Away From Home

by Jennifer Alcocer, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative

This personal narrative addresses the struggles of students graduating high school during the pandemic.

Grade 10
Writing
I Can Only Imagine

by Tala, Grade 10, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, 10th grader Tala asks essential workers what motivates them to keep going during these difficult times, offering her own views on hope for the future.

Grade 11
Writing
Touch Grass

by George S., Grade 11, 826 Boston

Informational
Persuasive
STEM

A writer implores people to get outside and touch grass because you never know what you might find!

Grade 10
Writing
Terror: A poem to the next president about being trans in this society

Alex P., Grade 10, 826 National

Persuasive
Poetry

A poem to the next president of the U.S. demanding change and advocating for transgender rights.

Grades 7–12
Writing
My Family Interview

by Johnny Vasquez, 826 MSP

Narrative

A family interview reveals a mother's painful past and shines a light on her persistence.

Grades 10–12
Writing
Generations

by Jizelle Villegas, Grade 12, 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

The stunning and vulnerable poem processes feelings of loss, grief, and hope for the future.

Grades 10–12
Writing
LECCIONES

by Melody Marcano, 826 Boston

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on their roots and their desire to grow.

Grade 9
Writing
Gone

by Kalyn Jackson, 826 New Orleans

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

Through this short story, Kalyn explores ideas of home and change in an altered world.

Grades 9–12
Writing
What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

by Ryker, 826michigan

Informational
Narrative

Liner notes that showcase the meaning and musicality of the Jimmy Ruffin song “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.”

Grade 9
Writing
You Deserve More

by Sabrin, Grade 9, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, 9th grader Sabrin discusses how she feels both happy and sad, and thanks nurses nationwide for bringing her peace through their work.

Grade 12
Writing
Transgicomedy

Cate H, Grade 12, 826CHI

Poetry

A poet sets the stage to showcase her reflections on being trans.

Grade 10
Writing
I Will Be a Lifesaver

by Yazmine-Gizelle, 826DC

Poetry

This poem uses a fundamental poetry technique, repetition, to share the writer's future plans.

Grades 8–9
Writing
Booking an Adventure

by William, 826LA

Memoir
Narrative

A teen discovers the power of books to transport him to another world, and shares his excitement about becoming a published author.

Grade 12
Writing
Still

by Franny, 826CHI

Poetry
STEM

A student spins through space and a treasure trove of memories in this poem.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Bryanna & Kayla

by Byanna & Kayla, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

Two students across one city bond by writing letters to each other about the people they love most.

Grades 11–12
Writing
The Great Assimilation

by Kayla Wayne, Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on their first encounter with forced assimilation.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Where I’m From

by Michaiah Anderson, The 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

In this poem, a student describes their family origins with an intimate point of view

Grade 12
Writing
Lives on the Line

by Terry Velasquez, Grade 12, The Bronx, NY

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student shares gratitude for the dedication of nurses and gives “credit where credit is due.”

Grade 12
Writing
Suitcase Blues

by Cristina, 826CHI

Poetry

A student recounts separation with a beloved friend through a nostalgic lens.

Grades 8–10
Writing
David & Daniel

by David & Daniel, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

In this heartfelt exchange of letters, two students bond over food, videos games, and some scary adventures.

Grade 12
Writing
Wentworth

by Tina N., Grade 12, 826 Boston

Fantasy/SciFi

A student describes their shark like imaginary friend.

Grade 10
Writing
Managing to Find Joy

by Luciana, Grade 10, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a sophomore at South High School in Minneapolis gives thanks to Children’s Hospital employees.

Grade 10
Writing
Six Poems in Search of My Border

by Jasmine J, 826 Valencia

Poetry

A student reflects on her origins to deconstruct social borders and seize her boundless future.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Dang, Crawfish

by Jordan, 826 New Orleans

Poetry

Crawfish, crayfish, or mudbugs. Whatever you call them, the writer of this poem doesn't like them.

Grade 12
Writing
M

Henry F., Grade 12, 826CHI

Poetry

A trans student reflects on their desire to be male.

Grade 11
Writing
We are not alone

by Jeremy Hsiao, 826 National

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem reminds activists that "to change everything, we need everyone."

Grade 9
Writing
Used To Be Booty, Now I’m Good

by Rey, Grade 9, 826 MSP

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

Aliens give this student superpowers to help him fulfill his greatest dream.

Grade 11
Writing
Eternal Youth

by Junaynah R., Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

Full of exquisite imagery, this poem explores the idea of second chances.

Grades 11–12
Writing
I’m Here to Stay

by Leydi Di Villanueva, The 826 Dallas Project

Narrative

This creative narrative imagines how the coronavirus views humanity during the pandemic.

Grade 9
Writing
Strength, Bravery, Selflessness, and Dedication

by Sammie, Grade 9, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a freshman at South High School in Minneapolis thanks care workers for supporting our local and national communities during this global pandemic.

Grades 8–9
Writing
What walking the red road means to me is

by Mariah Valenzuela, Minneapolis, MN

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poet uses her voice to speak up for those who have been silenced in the indigenous community.

Grades 11–12
Writing
The Woods

by Jesus Sanchez, The 826 Dallas Project

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

This creative short horror piece explores the mysteries and danger of a night in the woods.

Grade 12
Writing
Querido/a presidente

by Lukoiy V.R.G., Grade 12, Woodburn, OR

Poetry

A poet speaks out as a voice for change and all those who cannot speak.

Grade 12
Writing
The Reason We Have Balance

by Kailyn Espinosa, 826NYC

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a student shares how essential workers’ courage and compassion center her during these hectic times.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Henry & Matthew & Santiago

by Henry, Matthew, & Santiago, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

A compilation of letters written by three students across one city filled with thoughts on books, sports, music, family, and musings on Valentine’s Day.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Where I’m From

by Charles, 826 MSP

Poetry

A student reflects on his life, stemming from the life of his father.

Grade 12
Writing
The Cage We Share

by Jesus C., Grade 12, 826LA

Poetry

A poet identifies with a trapped ocelot at the zoo.

Grade 10
Writing
Check, Please!, Drop-Out, and Happy Endings

by Aphra, 826CHI

Informational
Media
Persuasive

A student considers realistic happy endings and the representation of LGBTQIA+ youth through the analysis of two webcomics.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Thoughts Onto Paper

by Pretty S, 826 Valencia

Memoir
Narrative

Peek into the mind of a student who considers artistic influences in her life.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Sunny Smiles

by Sergio M, 826 Valencia

Narrative
Poetry

This piece reminds us that a smile is not always what it seems.

Grade 12
Writing
Unglamorous Transgender

by Henry F., Grade 12, 826CHI

Poetry

In this poem, a student reflects on identity.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Matricide: Addressing Climate Change

by Maggie Munday Odom, Kailua, HI

Poetry

This poem personifies Earth as a mother coping with the brutalities of climate change.

Grades 9–12
Writing
This Is Me

by Lucas Hu, 826 Boston

Poetry

A poem about staying true to yourself during a challenging transition

Grade 10
Writing
Black Power

by Anthony, 826DC

Poetry

This poem gives insight to what it's like growing up Black in America.

Grade 11
Writing
Who I’ll Always Be

by Riti Shrestha, 826NYC

Poetry

In this poem, metaphor is used to describe who the narrator is.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Giving Shelter

by Steysi Hailee, 826LA

Narrative

A student reflects on a small moment and single sacrifice that transformed her outlook on giving.

Grade 10
Writing
What Is Freedom?

by Regina, 826LA

Poetry

From the forthcoming anthology, Poets in Revolt!, this poem expresses the realization that a cage is not the only obstacle to a bird's freedom.

Grades 8–9
Writing
Kneel Down for What You Believe In

by Caroline, 826 Valencia

Informational
Persuasive

A student explores U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe’s decision to kneel in protest during the national anthem.

Grades 10–11
Writing
Bigger Than You Think

by Sharoya Bracey, 826NYC

Memoir
Narrative

In this memoir, the narrator recounts the struggle of being the bigger person in a very small space.

Grade 10
Writing
Are You White?

by Isabella, 826NYC

Poetry

This poet rejects judgement based on the color of one’s skin.

Grades 10–11
Writing
La Luna De Mi Vida

by Karla M., 826LA

Poetry

A poem for lovers of love and the moon.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Alemeny

by Izzy T., 826 Valencia

Narrative

A student reflects on memories of home and what binds her special community together.

Grade 11
Writing
This Golden Place

by Maya M., Grade 11, Newburg, OR

Memoir

A student reflects on the memories they made while backpacking.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Technology Gives Me a Way In

by Jonas K., 826 National

Narrative
Persuasive

A student explores the paradox of how technology is used amongst teenagers.

Grade 11
Writing
History and Me

by Corazón, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

In this essay, a student threads their identity across cultures, histories, and places, engaging with legacies of violence and the movement of people.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Racial Autobiography

by Bianca Morcho, 826 MSP

Memoir
Narrative

A personal essay that explores the different shades of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Grades 11–12
Writing
My Uncle Nilton…

by Ryan, Grade 12, 826 Boston

Narrative
Persuasive

In this public narrative, a student illustrates the hardships his uncle has faced to argue for a path to citizenship.

Grades 9–12
Writing
Marcela

by Lisbeth M.F., 826NYC

Narrative

A story about how Marcus becomes Marcela.

Grades 10–11
Writing
My Name Is…Undecided

by Terra C., Grades 10-11, 826NYC

Memoir

A student recalls their journey on how they discovered their LGBTQIA+ identity.

Grade 12
Writing
Cake for the Culture

by Isaiah, 826 New Orleans

Narrative

This student reveals the mysterious origin story of the king cake. Hint: it includes Big Freedia, DJ Chicken Wing, and a massive party.

Grade 12
Writing
Nosey Much

by Kayla, 826 Boston

Poetry

This poem offers a very-real answer to "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Grades 11–12
Writing
Dancing in This Hurricane

by Earl Williams Jr., The 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

A powerful poetic piece about the experience of being Black in America.

Grade 9
Writing
Note to Self

by Gilbert, 826LA

Memoir
Narrative

One teen writes a letter to his 14-year-old self, citing his past fears but looking towards his present, a brighter future.

Grade 12
Writing
Finding My Wings

by Camille, 826LA

Memoir
Narrative

A student finds her wings in unexpected places in this piece about the transition to college.

Grades 9–10
Writing
Retrospect

by Kevin G, 826 Valencia

Narrative

This narrative calls us to see the world through the perspectives of others.

Grade 9
Writing
Here, Queer, Yet Not Really

by Mercury, 826CHI

Informational
Media
Persuasive

A student explores the representation of LGBTQIA+ minorities and youth in US pop culture.

Grades 9–10
Writing
The Rez Girls Are Powerful!

by Navayah, 826 MSP

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative

Through redefining a label, a student reclaims a piece of their identity.

Grades 11–12
Writing
The Confined Peacock

Kenya G., 17, 826LA

Poetry

A poet relates her experience as a queer woman in the closet to a peacock in the zoo.

Grades 8–12
Writing
A Challenge

by Shayne Williams

Narrative

Discover what one student experiences when they tuck their phone away for a whole day.

Grades 7–9
Writing
New Sport: Pencils

by Jason, 826michigan

Informational

Making bottle flipping look like child's play, this piece outlines rules for the new, competitive Fantasy Sport "Pencils".

Grades 10–11
Writing
Excerpt from “My Street”

by Justis Porter, age 16, 826 Boston

Poetry

A neighborhood ode filled with sights and sounds of the poet's street.

Grade 11
Writing
Where I Am From

by Rockelle Rodd, Grade 11, 826NYC

Poetry

This poem uses analogies to describe all of the pieces of the writer's personal history.

Grade 11
Writing
My Black

by Keyshana, Grade 11, 826CHI

Poetry

Black strength, beauty, and pride soar in this poem as a student discusses overcoming brutality and discrimination.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Christopher & Bryan & Jahir

by Christopher, Bryan, & Jahir, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

In an exchange of letters, three students across one city share stories about where they came from and the places that matter most.

Grade 12
Writing
Two-Sided Latin Culture

by Karina Centeno, Grade 12, 826 Dallas Project

Poetry

This poem takes an honest look at two sides of the writer's culture.

Grades 9–11
Writing
Gift of Love

by Samuel Wang, Grade 10, 826NYC

Poetry

A poem about the complexity of love exchanged during the holidays.

Grade 12
Writing
It will be hard, but you will prevail

by Helen, Grade 12, 826 MSP

Narrative
Persuasive

In this letter from the Essential Words lesson, a senior at South High School in Minneapolis offers words of support to healthcare workers across the country, including her own mom.

Grade 11
Writing
Harmony’s Canvas: A Vision of Love’s Eternal Light

by Elsy M.E., Grade 11, 826 Valencia

Poetry

A poet imagines a better and more harmonious world.

Grades 8–9
Writing
Jazmine & Vanessa

by Jazmine & Vanessa, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

Over a series of letters, two compassionate and resilient students develop a deep friendship sealed in writing.

Grades 11–12
Writing
Boston’s Chinatown is my home, but it is in a crisis.

by Sarah X. Age 18, 826Boston

Memoir

A rousing public narrative from an author coming to terms with their identity as a young Chinese American woman and what they represent: the community of Boston's Chinatown.

Grades 8–10
Writing
Reuben & Giselle

by Reuben & Giselle, 826CHI

Memoir
Narrative

Two students write to each other about where they came from, what they love, and a few mishaps along the way in an exchange of letters.

Grade 11
Writing
I Cannot Be Defined

by Alexis G., Grade 11

Narrative

In this narrative, the author uses vibrant language to explore their identity, in all its complexity, through different landscapes.

Grades 8–9
Writing
Shout-Out Poem

by Anjum, 826CHI

Poetry

A shout-out poem to some things missed (Hyderabad) and celebrated (Mom).

Grades 7–9
Writing
Fruit Woman Saves the Day

by Pia, 826NYC

Fantasy/SciFi
Narrative
STEM

A student reimagines food justice: Fruit Woman must convince Junk Food Man and Cheesecake Boy to eat their fruits and vegetables.

Grades 10–12
Writing
she, he, them

by Jahruwach Hamilton, 826NYC

Poetry

In this rousing poem, a student asserts her strength and worth as a woman.

Grades 9–10
Writing
An Indescribable Place

by Samantha Wint, Grade 9, 826 Valencia

Poetry

This poem uses metaphors and similes to explore many dualities of the narrator's life.