Tuesday, May 25, 2021

ODE To This Thing Called Family

Sheila McKinney,
Richmond, CA's Youth Poet Laureate

RYSE Youth Center announced Sheila McKinney as Richmond CA's first Youth Poet Laureate (YPL)! The YPL is a new role for the city of Richmond that highlights the artistic endeavors and artistry of youth within their community, while bridging the gap between youth and adults. She is mentored by the former Richmond Poet Laureate and RYSE Media, Arts, & Culture Manager, Ciera Jevae, and will work with youth and adult poets nationally.

Sheila McKinney is a 16 year old poet attending Pinole Valley High (West Contra Costa School District, Ca). She serves on the Debate team, the African American Student Union, as well as WISE (Women in STEM Education). She recently started writing and performing over this past year, and is already co-facilitating a series of poetry workshops on the national level. Sheila uses poetry as a form of activism and as a tool for moving the world into a more just and loving place.  

We asked Sheila to submit a poem for our LIAS Blog which is presented below. 

ODE To This Thing Called Family 
By Sheila McKinney 

Ode to that smacking I hear
I hate when you do it but miss it when you not here
Passed down recipes from ancestors that show up every now and again 
And in honor of you
We eat gracely
With bowed heads we say Amen
The taste that opens heaven gates on my tongue 

Ode to those who were once young
Tellin stories nobody knew
Surprised faces with a burst of comfort feels the room 
The long talks that have my eyes open
Ears perked like a dog
Even when you’re miles away
I vision the moments we have shared
The thoughts that evolved 

People that I’m always around 
Knows me like the back of my hand 
Enough love to last my whole life 
Enough friction to create strife
Ode to this thing we call family 

RYSE is a Youth Serving Organization based in Richmond, Ca. RYSE consists of 4 departments; Community Health, Education & Justice, Youth Organizing, and the Media Arts, and Culture Department. Their aim is to eliminate any barriers youth may face in the pursuit of education, life goals, and liberation, as well as create platforms that elevate youth voice and youth leadership in the present and the future. 

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