“Melanin” by Naiya Scott

Over the past two weeks, the Beat has posted work from writers in the Writers in Baltimore Schools (WBS) program. This work was created at WBS’ Young Writers’ Summer Studio, a six-day writing camp held each year in August. This year, the Beat’s Lisa Snowden-McCray and Brandon Soderberg worked with the students for two of those six days. Some of the work here and much more will be published in WBS’ Writers’ Studio anthology out soon. We began with a piece from WBS founder Patrice Hutton and so far we brought you poems by WBS writers Abigail MokubaJahi HeathChristian PearsonKenniah WoodsonA.H. BerryGerard JohnsonKyra Smith, Ernest Johns, and Madyson Bassett. The final poem we’ll be sharing is by Naiya Scott…

We come from being impregnated by our masters so labor could be multiplied 

from calluses and bleeding feet, 

from being afraid to breathe the wrong way,

from various bug bites that sit and fester on top of our skin. We come from the realization that we are in hell.


We come from war within our country, 

a civil war. 

Proving we can conquer. 

We come from the earth.

 We come from missed periods, from busted knuckles , blistering backs, broken bones, shackles, and being more susceptible to death than any other race.


We come from being needed but not appreciated.. putting the needs of our masters before our own. 

We come from the garden.. picking the flowers who would never represent us. 

We come from being looked down upon.


We come from dirty kitchens and spoiled milk, broken sidewalks and sprained ankles. We were put here.. not by choice. 

We fight from dawn till dusk. Fighting to be represented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, politics, and the media.

 We come from happy moments and owning our own businesses.


We come from taking care of our children alone. From being more protective of our offspring so our 14 year old son doesn’t get tried as an adult. From fireworks, to gunshots , to gun wounds.


We come from not being able to communicate with one another.

 Getting a switch off of a tree to teach discipline instead of talking about what’s wrong. 

We come from whiskey covered lips because depression can’t exist if your life is so called “perfect”


We come from being angry and mad even when that’s not the truth. 

from hair extensions and natural curls, 

from beauty standards and endless tears, 

from curves and thick stomachs. 

We come from sad days but happy nights,

We come from R&B music and making love,

from laughter and the electric slide,

we come from roller skating every friday night.


I come from waking up at 3:00 am and listening to frank ocean while thinking about my past. 

I come from a personal struggle,

from gospel music and rosy cheeks,

from tight hugs and wide smiles,

from dancing along the cold tile on my kitchen floor, 

from still having a voice even when i can’t speak. 

I come from pure, black love.


I come from power and resilience. 

I come from toughness and perseverance. 

I come from ambition and chocolate. 

I come from my ancestors. 

The lineage that resides across the nation


We come from each other. 

We are melanin


(A diary entry written from the soul)






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