‘The Me I See’

Black Student Union hosts 5th Annual Poetry Slam

Sophia Comas, Opinions Editor

The 5th Annual Poetry Slam — hosted by the Black Student Union — flashed acceptance and diversity in Manhattan High’s Little Theater, prompting students to perform in-depth poems about “The Me I See” and their ideas about self-perception and acceptance.

Inspired by Netflix’s “When They see Us,” a mini-series that follows the wrongful conviction of five black men accused of rape in 1989, MHS’s BSU chapter is happy their theme was able to reflect how other people’s ideas about humanity can alter the way another feels about themselves. However, they also wanted to reflect the importance of being one’s true self despite someone else’s contradictions.

“It brought into conversation how we see ourselves,” Chalice Carter, chapter president, said. “We came up with ‘The Me I See’ as a by-product of that.”

In addition to producing a theme, students in BSU had to follow through on planning how the actual event would take place. Publicizing came by way of flyers and announcements, along with promoting through banners hung in the Prentup Commons. Additionally, their selection of judges — six teachers and one student — and the criteria for the winning poem were laid out, making the final product last Tuesday night one to remember. Ultimately, junior Isabel Porres took the overall prize with her piece inspired by her English class’s poetry unit.

“This year has really changed ‘the me I see,’” Porres said, “so I felt it was a good opportunity to reflect on who I think I am.”

Although nervous, Porres is proud of her winning success, especially since all the other pieces presented their own winning qualities, whether it was the poem itself or the person reading it. 

“I was afraid my poem would be seen as inadequate,” Porres said,” but when I got there and looked at the judges, it all went away.”

Although shocked, Porres’s idea of winning was also overshadowed by the knowledge that other people were prepared to empathize with the emotional complexity of performing a poetry reading.

“I wasn’t worried about winning,” Porres said. “I just thought it was cool that people cared enough to listen.” 

For BSU students, Porres’s performance displayed the dilemma of judgement, showing how it’s within people to judge without knowing the full extent of every situation. The concept is now further carrying the chapter into being the best they can be.

“I feel like there’s a lot of preconceived notions of people [made] just by looking,” Carter said. “We look and we judge, whether it’s the right thing or not.”