The Royals Music Chamber

This poem was written to give voice to the stories, feelings and perspectives that multiple Black students shared with me about their experiences in one teacher’s class. Sadly, the poem also reflects the stories and feelings I have heard from my Black students across nearly a decade of teaching as a Black educator. I am often the only Black teacher any of my students have had. They talk to me, trust me, confide in me.  And this is what they share…


The Royals’ Musical Chamber

No room to breathe

Feel like I’m locked in a cage

Other hands raised for questions,

I have to write mine down on post it notes.


Some sit by friends,

when I do, I have to move.

Think I had an accident,

No permission to use the restroom.


Drums playing after the lesson,

mine taken away,

I can still hear them playing.

He keeps his instrument and grins at me,

Our eyes speak, we both agree,

No Equality.


Scolded… belittled…annoyed…

Anxiousness overcomes me

Kicked out of class

Regularly… purposely

My only option so I can escape this space.


Singing is a part of me,

In here I am like a bird

Without a voice

So I don’t participate

Because I’m treated unfairly.

While they regurgitate equity.


Reflection Questions:
  • Can you relate to the student’s feelings in this poem? How so?
  • Do students or children confide in you when they are experiencing marginalization and racism? What do they tell you? What do you tell them?
  • How can you or do you ensure that students aren’t feeling the way this student feels in our classrooms? What personal actions do you take? What systemic changes are needed?
  • Would you talk with the teacher of the music class about student experiences in their classroom? If so what would you say?
  • Do you know of a specific teacher who is marginalizing students? Have you addressed this known harmful educator?
  • You’ve read the poem… if you can relate in. any. way. …what do you need to do now? Personally? Interpersonally? Systemically?


–Jessica Winnie (FB: EverythingIAmPoetry), Founder of MNBlackBox, book available on Amazon