Creative Corner: Be Yourself, Go Ahead and Try

Taylor Rupp

Are you afraid?

Afraid of showing your skin

Afraid of holding hands

Afraid of speaking your first language

Constantly condemned.

Do you feel safe?

Safe from bullets

Safe from whistles

Safe from slurs

Protected by chance.


Have you ever been moved by a story that was not your own?

A story where you didn’t become the main character,

Where you were the side-kick,

Written off as a minority,

A token.

Unworthy of having your own story

Only useful to someone else

Because your value lies

In another’s eyes.


Have you ever feared for your life?

When you are innocent of crime

Yet your life is constantly on the line

Even before you’ve made it to sixteen

Because you Looked Older

Because you Acted Suspiciously

Because who knew it was a book in your backpack

Because you Were Too Loud

Because you are—

People treat you with veiled disdain

When they think they already know your name—

One you never chose but

One that arose

From misplaced power

That you try to reclaim

But when you’re shot,

Not to incapacitate,

No, it’s much too late,

When you’re truly dead,

No one remembers your name.

Riots only last for so long,

A statute of limitations

Based on how valuable you were.

A desperate cry for equality

Seen only as another tragedy

To acknowledge the injustice

And leave it be.

Isn’t there a better way, you say?

A better way that has been tried

By a jury that doesn’t consider themselves peers

And convicted over and over and over again

A verdict that sears

Mistrust into the criticized

As they stand and watch others with worse offenses

Become baptized.

Yet we are still surprised

When another injustice arises

A week later.


Have you ever feared for your life?

Have you ever had the audacity to love?

Don’t you know we regulate that?

You can only love half.

Half of the world,

Half of your species,

Half of yourself.

You can’t have it all.

You can’t have health care.

This is your punishment.

You defied their beliefs,

So now you suffer.

You watch

As the one you love most in this world,

Your other half,

Lives the rest of life in agony.

The rest of the world uncaring,

Silently smirking

As the scientists are shirking.

They don’t look for a cure.

Don’t you wish you were more demure?

The world is self-cleansing they say,

Like a bloody, unused egg.

You can’t have that word.

An ancient pact of devotion

That predates the religions

Who claim control over its use

And even over the rights it gives you.

How uncivil,

That a union

So strong should be denied

Its right filled name.

You can’t be proud.

You can’t have fun.

You once felt safe in places

Specifically made for your comfort

Welcoming those who wanted to feel accepted.

But now you can’t feel safe.

You walk in wondering if anyone has a gun.

Your pulse now races faster than the music

Trying to enjoy yourself despite the fear.

You don’t even feel like you belong here.


Have you ever feared for your life?

Stranded in a land

Radicalized by strife.

Lost hearing

From the explosions

Ever nearing

You and your home and your family and

Everything you’ve ever known?

Only to try and run,

To try and save just one

Of the people you cherish more than yourself.

Someone is supposed to be helping you,

But you never understand how

As you and your home and your family and

Everything you’ve ever known becomes

Collateral Damage.

Certain death now, or a chance of certain death later?

Turned away at the door

Telling you they can’t take any more

Not even the infant in your arms

Babbling softly to comfort you

And you wonder at how someone so new

Already adores you

And how those ones now old

Could be so cold.


My favorite memory

Is my one moment of Freedom,

The one moment I wasn’t afraid.

One moment to be me

Without fear of conflict or death.

A simple right

We hardly get to use.

A moment of safety

Beyond the abuse.

Your favorite memory

Tells your values.

Everyone deserves to have that

Moment of happiness.

Please trust me,

Know that apathy

Only protects your mind,

Not your body, not your lover, not your family.

Thoughts are kind and appreciated,

But unproductive.


Speaking out, Standing up, Voting,

Linking arms, Sharing food, Building Homes.

We all seek

A world full of empathy.