Skip to main content

Mansfield Magazine

Local High School Student Uses Poetry to Make a Difference

Oct 10, 2016 04:33PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

DJ Howard

In an age where science and technology is heavily favored, it is refreshing and inspiring to see that there are still high school students that not only value the written word, but use it as a form of empowerment. DJ Howard, a senior at Martin High School, wrote a moving poem that earned him 3rd place for creativity in his public speaking class.

DJ was able to take some time and answer a few of our questions about his inspiration, as well as his plans after high school. Be sure to read his poem, "Black Faces," below. 

1. Tell us a little bit about your poem. Where did you find your inspiration?

This has always been my life. Classmates have always told me that I'm "not black" - simply because I didn't like a certain type of food, or I didn't talk a certain way.  I don't think people realize how much influence it has on a person and that it's not ok.  It’s not ok to tell people that they’re something that they’re not.  So, I wrote a poem to let people know that it's not ok. 


2. What do you like most about writing? 

Creating something that causes people to stop and think is the most enjoyable part of writing for me. I like being able to make a difference.


3. What’s your favorite thing to do? Do you have any hobbies? 

Besides writing, I've always liked to play chess and video gaming.  I run cross country and track for Martin High School and I run with and an elite track club called Team Xtreme. 


4. What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to go to college but I'm not sure where yet - we're filling out applications now.  I'm not sure if I want to concentrate on a degree in Creative Writing/English or what just yet.  Hopefully, I'll figure that out soon.


5. Do you plan on continuing to write?

I plan on writing in the future and will probably write forever. It's a very enjoyable thing for me to do and it seems to come naturally.

Black Faces

by DJ Howard

Ever since about the 4th grade, I’ve been called a black white kid

You know, the kid whose skin definitely has the pigment

But didn’t have enough ghetto in him


It was a little funny at first but eventually it became harder to tell where I fit in


Now in the 7th grade, my name is something everyone knows

And despite my black face, they insisted that I was white

So they gave me the nickname “Oreo” -

Black on the outside white on the inside


To this day, I don’t understand why

Acting right and being nice made me white

Or how my dad being around, and me not being loud means I’m not brown.


Don’t get me wrong, I know they don’t mean anything by it

I’m just done being that white kid with an n-word license

I don’t want to be silent or stand by as I’m branded with this title


This is for all the people who “don’t act their race”

I want you to ask the people who say this, why they say it

And watch them try not to say

That you’re not what they expected you to be

A stereotype


Tell them that we’re not defined by

Our individual races

And to stop whiting out our black faces

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Mansfield Magazine's free newsletter to get regular updates

Embed this content on your website