Ninth Grader Olivia Rubin Wins First Place in Racial Justice Poetry Contest

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Congratulations to Olivia Rubin ’27 for finishing first place in her division in the Baltimore County Lynching Memorial Project (LMP) Racial Justice Poetry Contest. 

For the contest, The Baltimore County LMP invited students to use the lynching of fifteen-year-old Howard Cooper in 1885 as inspiration to combat tactics that deny truths about racism in our state. Students were asked to compose a poem that expresses a perspective on, or personal experience with, racism. Like the historical marker that was installed in Baltimore County for Howard Cooper in 2021, the original poem must bring public attention to injustice as a necessary step toward achieving racial harmony.

“I wrote the poem specially for this competition with edits from my English teacher, Lubna Najar, who was super helpful,” Olivia said. “The topic of racial adversity is something I try to draw attention to, because too many people look over the work that needs to be done and the systems that need to be changed. We are all still trying to heal from our wounds that are constantly infected with the stories of our brothers and sisters getting killed.”

“We might have jumped over the rope, but we haven’t gotten through the obstacle of racism in America. I admire greatly what the Baltimore County Lynching Memorial Project is doing, and how they are looking to bring awareness and change to what has happened, and what is happening in Baltimore, Maryland.”

Olivia’s award-winning poem:

We are Lesser by Madelyn Olivia Rubin

Am I lesser
Lesser than a race
Lesser than a man or a woman;
Because of my chocolate skin

Was he lesser?
Lynched.
Because of words from his lips,
His black lips,
Towards a white woman
She, ignorant to the experiences he faced everyday.
Was he lesser, enough to be killed?

We lose our lives
Because in your mind, we are not human;
Not worthy of equality
We are beast among the street
Who blend in with the dark
And you choose not to see the light in us,
Not to see our black excellence

So you kill us
With your so called accidents
Shoot us, till our number dwindle
Beat us and scar our children
So they lean and fall to a grave
You prepared

But;

Was she lesser,
To be shot in her bed?

Was he lesser
To be kicked in his head?

Am I lesser
Watching people like me
With my skin
And my hair
In my community
die and lose loved ones

People think we are lesser

Lesser than all the people
In this so called superior race
Who benefit from my grandparents
And my ancestors
Sweat blood, and endurance

Without our strength
this country would be nowhere
This country would be lesser

but,
we;
are not lesser
I, am not lesser
She, is not lesser
He, is not lesser
Because regardless of what is said

God made us with purpose
And unbelievable talent,
With Beautiful skin that comes in thousands of shades

We, are worth so much
Too much
To be lesser than you

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