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It Only Takes 90 Seconds To Make Me Look At Black Kids Riding The Sliding Board A Little Differently

There's something so innocent about playing at a playground as a child. But what if the behaviors we learn there take on a different meaning when we're older?

It Only Takes 90 Seconds To Make Me Look At Black Kids Riding The Sliding Board A Little Differently

Here's a little background:

In the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri, protests surrounding the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, hundreds of poets have recorded themselves reading meaningful and mostly original works that highlight systemic racism, police brutality, injustice, and the love of black life using the hashtag #BlackPoetsSpeakOut on Twitter. There's even a Tumblr devoted just to pulling together all the videos from YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else black poets are posting.


There are so many good poems there, written and read by people from all walks of life. Some of them are long and intense, some short and angry, some sad, some defiant, and all filled with metaphors and wordplay that would make Maya Angelou proud.

But my favorites are the simple ones that use really powerful ideas and imagery to make a powerful point. Images like this:

A slide.

And what in the world does a sliding board have to do with #BlackLivesMatter? Well, that's the beauty of poetry! Clint Smith's poem "Playground Elegy" tells the story of him as a little boy being told by his mother to raise his hands in the air on his first ride down a slide.

He remembers the feeling of freedom he felt as the air passed through his hands on his first slide. And now, as an adult and in the wake of Mike Brown's death, he wonders about the connection between raising his hands as a young black boy and the young men who are taught to raise their hands as a way to stay alive in the presence of police. Deep, right?

(In case you're wondering about the explicit connection between this poem and Ferguson, remember that eyewitnesses said they saw Mike Brown with his hands up in the air as he was shot by Darren Wilson. And while the prosecutor disputed that claim, the facts of the case remain unclear as to the exact positioning of his arms. As a result, the position has become a symbol of protest and solidarity for people all over the world since the shooting on Aug. 9, 2014.)

Anyway, I can't do his creative, thought-provoking poem justice, and it's only 90 seconds long, so make sure to share it!

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Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

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via Tom Ward / Instagram

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Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

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Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

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