by Jac Layton-Brown
I’ve never been so overwhelmed before.
I’ve never felt so calm yet stressed at the same time before.
Things have been affecting my community, the Black Community, for so long.
I feel as if I’ve become numb to it all.
I’ve grown up seeing it.
I’ve grown up hearing about it.
I’ve grown up being afraid of it.
Lately I’ve been silent.
I was affected but I was silent.
But once I spoke out,
everything that I’ve worried about,
everything that I’ve tried to inform others of,
has poured out.
All the pain,
all the anguish,
all the sadness,
I feel it all.
And it’s so much to feel.
Jac is a Junior at Franklin High School. She is an active member of Epiphany.
by Evan B.
Don't let anyone take your confidence or self esteem.
Don't pay them no mind-- ghost them!
They're just mean and a fein.
If it gets carried away, take it to the dean for her or him.
Don't let anyone take your confidence or self esteem.
Stand up for yourself and 'be a man.'
You have to show them no weakness or fear,
Like you're rock solid and no fan.
Evan is a freshman. He wrote this poem as an assignment in response to the film adaptation of 'Persepolis' for his Graphic Novels & Anime class.
All The Faults In The World
By Elizabeth Sack
I am a star that lives above the world. I watch and I wait, and sometimes, someone looks back at me. Even during the day I am watching, and there is nothing I can not see. I have been watching since the earth was formed. I have seen continents come together and break apart. I have seen oceans cover the world. I have seen civilizations rise and fall, and I remember a time before there were humans, before there was heartbreak. But it is the times of heartbreak that are most important in history, for they are also the times when change will come. I have seen cities war against each other, seen calculated murder at the hands of criminals, seen humans shun others simply because they are different. I do not pretend to understand it, though I have seen it all. After all, the stars have many colors, white and green and red and yellow and blue, and thousands in between, and there are not any that are the same. But every star fills your night sky, and without us all the night would be empty. I think it is the same with your world. Every living thing makes the earth colorful, whole, makes life worth living. I just wish that all humans could see it.
I have seen colonists come across the sea, trying to administer their rule. I have seen them go to Africa, and just because the people there looked different, they enslaved them. I have seen hunts, humans hunting animals, killing them, for no crime that I can see. I have seen trees cut down so that an already overpopulated species can continue to grow. I have seen humans treat others of their own kind less just because of their religion or the color of their skin. I have seen wars fought because of it, but the problem is still here today. I have seen police brutality, child slaves, mistreated women, hunted animals, hewn trees, world-wide wars, environmental crises.
Yet for all of this, all of this hurt and hate and fear, I have seen people who rose up, people who are still rising up, to face it. Greta Thunberg, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai, Ruby Bridges, and hundreds of thousands more. And though they each fought for different things, what they fought didn’t matter nearly as much as what they changed, what they inspired, what they defied. And one of the best parts was they were all ordinary people. But they were also people who saw a fault in the world and decided to start to fix it. And maybe the faults weren’t fixed, maybe there are still cracks. Maybe there are cracks that no one has seen or tried to fix yet. But it is always darkest before the dawn, and that is when you can see the stars.
Elizabeth Sack is in grade seven and goes to Samson G. Smith Middle School. She is in Newspaper Club and plays the flute.
by Catherine Rodriguez, FHS Class of 2018
I was fed anti blackness by the sun on the shore when i was nothing but a young girl
being told to embrace the shade because i wouldn't want to get too tan
I wouldn't want to get black
I was fed anti blackness by the boxes of relaxers that burned my scalp and my six year old tears
but beauty was pain
I was fed anti blackness when i told my best friend in third grade that I had a crush on our classmate
and she laughed saying he was ugly because he was too black
as if there was such a thing as being too beautiful
my diet continues to extend into emerging adulthood
continually fed anti blackness by institutional racism
but even after so many stereotypes
you never get used to the to the taste
after being fed so much anti blackness
you get fed up, full of the bullshit that wants to neglect my people
from opportunities that were stolen from them from the time they were stolen
to the white guy who can keep himself quiet during biology lectures
but cant control his mouth from releasing the 2 syllables of “ni**a” when that song comes on
who wants to scream reverse racism when I drop a comment about white people
the truth must hurt
I state the truth about the never extinguished oppression, just disguised oppression
“you’re being racist” is the response I get when I call out their privilege
as if me keeping it real is offensive
it's the black people who get offended and affected by the system in which whites are the sole benefactors, a system of inequality
an industry that loves to cast the black as the maid or doormen, catering to the needs of the modern day masters
it hurts the chains around our necks that get tighter and tighter every time we pledge allegiance to a flag that doesn't give us freedom
here's to my black kings that are too blinded by straight hair and oppositional culture
to recognize their black queens
that reject us because we tend to be ratchet
because we ain't nothing more than some ass to look at on a campus where there ain't much to see
my black king,
we are here for you
do not be flattered by the white girls who love to stroke your brown skin
don't let them check you off as a box on their list of fetishes
because while she may throw herself at you
she refuses to have any ounce of black baby inside her
she wants to f**k you but not support you
and the ones that do want to have your baby
and are willing to fetishize their lightskin children
don't know how their moisturize their babies’ hair
but love to show off the new standard of beauty
you know the ones i'm talking about
the ones who love to flex with you in pictures
but go ghost as soon as a black lives matter post goes viral
and the ones who are there for you
the ones who fight for you
who are willing to take the lashes
the ones who understand you
are waiting for you to recognize their worth
but you don't see me
how could you in a world that silences me
because if I say anything that speaks against society
I turn into an angry black girl
how are the things that I hate most about myself my most black features
affirmative action gives them a reason “you're only at cornell because they want diversity”
in fact, we are more than a diversity statistic
we are statistics of death
I'd be damn if instead of worrying that my son become a dealer or a thug
that he become a hashtag
the blood only gets heavier
they say history repeats itself
but this history has yet to end
my black king,
when you sat alone on the bus because they rather stand up than to sit next to you
there was a seat next to me
my black king,
when the class acted like they didn't hear you
and the answer you offered was correct but wasn't acknowledged until a white voice repeated it
I was impressed with how you computed the result so fast
my black king,
when you walked into class and received stares from an ocean of blue eyes
I was staring too
but not out of fear or disgust, but so in awe with the way you walk with your head held high in a world that doesn't love you.
because in this world that doesn’t love you,
I promise that I will
Catherine Rodriguez is a 2018 graduate of Franklin High School, where she was a contributing member of Epiphany. She just completed her sophomore year at Cornell University. She writes under the handle of @sincerelycathy.
by Jasmine Fleming
I see so many horrible things going on in the world...
so many people suffering in so many different countries...
including our own...
it makes me think:
what kind of future will my generation have?
This is what motivates me..
That much I am certain of..
I know there is nothing else
I wish to do in my life,
but make this world better..
Bring people together..
make things good.
Jasmine is a sophomore at FHS. She has become an active member of Epiphany this school year. She performed this piece for the Drama Showcase.
Work, Work, Work
by Ms. Meyer and Mr. Laden's bunny loving student
Work, work, and more work
The toughest year lingers upon you
Work, work, and more work
Staying up late to study hard enough for an A on your test grade
Work, work, and more work
Piles and piles of homework to complete
Work, work, and more work
Losing motivation to keep working
Work, work and more work
Junior year is a very hard, but important year
Ms. Meyer and Mr. Laden's bunny loving student is an 11th grader at FHS who wishes to remain anonymous.
A Speech on Beauty
by Abiola Babalola
How many people here are on instagram or any social media sites? Okay, so how many people here follow models or should I say instagram models? If so, then how would that instagram model that you follow on instagram or any social media sites look like? From Body type, skin type; are they always wearing makeup or are they always half naked? What about when you're out and about in the world? Do you see women on billboards with the perfect smile and the perfect skin trying to promote a face wash they never used a day in their life? Or a man on the cover of a magazine with his shirt off with the perfect structure of abs looking into the sunset?
The beauty industry. The media. The fame everyone strives for it. To look and act a certain way. They will get surgery to make their noses smaller, to make their waist smaller, and more just to fit the standard beauty standards. And we have the media to blame for it. The media promotes this “perfect life” or the “perfect look” that almost everyone wants to have. There are billions of people in the world and everyone looks different. No matter how many times people say that being different is unique, they are clearly wrong. Society has a set of beauty standards that makes people question their own looks. From celebrities, blogs, friends, and even to enemies, make you rethink your appearance. This standard is a definition of what the world considers being beautiful. This idea is something that mostly everyone knows about and can relate to. There is no one in this world who is exactly the same, but people still feel the need to meet this standard. Everyone has two sides to them. One side is trying to boost your self esteem with “you are perfect just the way you are”, while the other side puts you down by telling yourself “I have to change, I have to fit in.” There is always going to be that side that cares about what the world thinks and the other that could care less.
According to a Yale student in her article, people have chased the ideal look for centuries; alas, this look comes and goes as trends and generations do. (Yan, 2017). This talked about how the word beautiful has changed over time. In the 1930s, the first supermodel was Lisa Fongossagrives who was the face of standard beauty, She was very skinny, was admired by many girls and was dreamt about by many boys. Girls were trying their best to lose weight and to get as skinny as the hottest models while growing up. They are thought that being bigger than a size 5 was the worst thing ever. While now, the standard beauty for our generation is to be “slim thick” or an hourglass figure. The ones responsible for this are the media, celebrities, models, and fashion designers. All of these points play a big part in the growth of the standard and how people view themselves.
Everyone dreams about being the best they can in any aspect. But to achieve that goal, most people believe that one of the biggest factors is outer beauty. So, people look at celebrities and fashion designers, and believe that to be accepted, they have to look just like them. That’s when they take extreme measures to change their look because they have been influenced by the Medias’ idea of beauty. This usually used to happen for mostly women, but in recent years, the gender gap has decreased. Now, men also feel the need to look good because of the media.
Abiola is a Senior who wrote this speech for Mr. DiMarco's Speech and Debate class. This particular speech means a lot to her because it shows how she feels about society.
This is a preview of "Fire, Fur, and Ash Spots," a story Joe F. is currently working on.
There was an issue in Africa.
Deep in one of its jungles, near one of its god’s temples,
a son of a mighty leopard god was slaughtered.
His tongue removed so that his spirit could not drink;
His claws ripped from his paws to harden his afterlife hunt;
His teeth lay near his corpse but far from his mouth so that his pride was fractured;
His guards and subjects heads were bashed in so that no one nearby could mourn.
Having lost king and son in one night, a leopard god was furious. The fur attached to his skin was set ablaze as it sizzled in orange heat. His spots were as black as the bodies burned to honor the lives they once held. The leopard god was furious and he wanted the head of his son’s murderer. He did not care for the pacts and laws and agreements that barred gods from direct involvement with the world; he wished to leave his temple and wreak havoc in the jungle until justice rang through the trees and ground and sky. He would burn the trees and its resting birds and hungry frogs and smelly fungus if it meant justice would ring through the ground and sky. He would burn the ground and its crawling critters and vibrant plants and nutritious soil if it meant justice would ring through the sky. He would burn the sky and its floating clouds and bright moon and starry night if it meant justice would ring through him. The leopard god was furious and could not be allowed to leave his temple for all that would be left are embers and smoke in his wake.
So four mediums were sent to deal with the issue.
A thoughtful Monk.
An arrogant Allamah.
A prideful Priest.
And a brash Non-believer.
The monk walked alongside the others with no shoes on his soles. He believed that he should take the world was is and learn from it all that he can. His body was shaven of all hair, his robes were as thin as air, and his hand stayed over his chest so that he could be thankful every second his heart pumped.
The Allamah walked alongside the others, thinking them brainless barbarians. He thought that he’d been sent to fix another issue by himself and three paperweights. His scripture in hand he thought the Monk uncultured, the Priest stupid, and the Non-believer out of line.
The Priest walked alongside the others with too much confidence. He had recently been given his position and thought himself on top of the world. He had a hard time discerning his thoughts and Jehovah’s whispers. He thought the others lucky that he was present. He was favored by his god and they should be favored too by proxy. Young and inexperienced, he walked as though this work familiar.
The Non-believer walked alongside the others with scorn. She had no reason to trust gods and many to despise them. She found the others blinded by their faiths and texts and gods. She told herself that she alone would be the neutral party in this. With no gods or devils to answer to she knew what she wanted: to find the killer and bring them to justice with as little bloodshed as possible. She did not fear blood but she did not crave it.
A quarter the size of a mountain, with the same amount of stone in its construct, the temple of the leopard god stood proud surrounded by miles and miles of forest, hidden deep in the jungle. The surrounding forest had latched onto the temple like a parasite. Centuries of time had lead to tree roots wrapping themselves loving around the infrastructure, greenery sprouting from the cracks and weeds being ever-present on its steps.
Weighing heavy on the ground beneath it, the stone dome of a temple was supported by 10 large pillars and held 10 rooms in itself. Nine of the rooms were boring and plain; there were rooms to sleep, eat, play, do laundry, relieve oneself, and teach others. All these rooms only held the specific essentials needed for it. They all were lined in a circle connected by a large, circular, repeating hallway that held the last room in its center.
The center room was lined in gold, its walls covered in tapestries, and its floor flooded in offerings. In the center of this room was a large plate-shaped thing that had a forever burning fire under it.
In the center of the temple, in the center of 9 rooms, in the center of a circular hallway, in the center of a gold-lined room, in the center of a plate that never went cold, was a god of fire fur and ash spots. A leopard god rested on his plate, furious, flames crackled under his skin and deep black smog came from his ears. As large as a three-story house the leopard god’s face was scrunched in an unpleasant way and he bared his teeth at all who gazed upon him. He was very unhappy and the rare sight of 4 mortals that dared not worship him in his temple didn’t make him any happier.
Speaking hotly because the only day he’d speak cold was when his corpse was laid on the forest floor the god repeated what the four already knew. “Eight miles east of me a son of mine was slaughtered in his home. Those who surrounded and praised him and protected him were killed alongside him. I want the one guilty brought before me. If he is not found within three days my search will start regardless of what you mortals say. If my search burns Africa to the ground you will find that I wouldn’t care.”
Joe F. is a Junior at FHS and an active member of Epiphany. He is a self-described "lover of comics and competent writer." He enjoys creating comic books in his free time. Comics and candy are his forte.
What does it mean to be an American?
What does it mean to be an American? If you asked anyone, they would all give you different answers. Some would talk about freedom, while others would talk about opportunities. But for me, I feel like being an American means to have rights, privileges, and freedom. No, America isn't a perfect country, but it is one of the only countries in the world that have rights given to people of different gender and diversities of our rich culture. There are many different races in this one country. If you travel anywhere in the world, you would mainly see just one race while here you would see a mis of different races and ethnicities.
People in different countries don’t even have the rights to do much in their own country. Before, women weren’t even allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia until 2018, while here it was very common to see women behind the wheel. And even till this day, women in Saudi Arabia are required to wear an abaya but in America, women could be out in the street wearing anything they please. I remember when I was 12, my family and I went on our family summer vacation to Nigeria but had to pass through Dubai. I was wearing a mini skirt since I knew that when we landed in Nigeria it would be hot. I didn’t really think much about landing in Dubai and the restrictions.
When we landed in Dubai and was getting off the plane, all of the airport working were giving me a funny look and my twelve year old self thought that they were looking at me because of my size which made me nervous because I hated my figure then. When we went to check our luggage in, so we wouldn't have to explore with 8 big travel bags, the lady behind the security desk pulled my mother and I to the side and told me to put something on. At first we didn’t really understand why she wanted me to change my outfit because in America no one said anything about my outfit expect people giving me compliments. My mother asked her to explain what she was talking about and was when she told us how it is not appropriate for a lady to wear anything as short or revealing as my shirt. I was surprised, which quickly turned into realization because I wasn’t in America anymore. It made me realize how America has more freedom, even with the most simplest thing like clothing. In the text, “What does it mean to ‘be American’”? It says, “Being American is red, white and blue and being free. It doesn't matter what language you speak…” From French to Yoruba to Turkish; there are thousands of different languages in America alone that people speak daily.
These are the simple things in life that make me feel freer. That makes me feel like I have privileges. So, being an American means enjoying the right of freedom of speech, embracing the many diversities, the American way of life, different cultures and equal rights of determining the country's leadership. This makes me proud to call myself an American.
Abiola is a Senior. She wrote this reflective piece for her Race, Gender, and Equity class at FHS.
This Thing Called “Love”
Feelings, so raw and untouched...
Butterflies in my stomach at the thought of you,
My mind wanders whenever I’m with you;
Endless smiles, the heat rising up my cheeks, blushing at the sound of your name.
You found the love in me that I’ve lost.
Lost the sight of love,
Until we met
In this thing called “Love”.
A.V. is a former Poetry Today student of Ms. Barbour's and a member of Epiphany.
Epiphany Literary Magazine is a safe space for students at Franklin High School to share their creativity.