Caitlin Williams, from Everglades High School, was named National Champion in Original Spoken Word Poetry at the National Speech and Debate Association’s Championship Tournament held in Louisville, KY from June 12th-17th. Caitlin also earned Second Place in the Expository category.
Every year, thousands of high school students join together to use the power of their words for change. Throughout the year, more than 6,000 students qualify for the chance to have their message heard in front of thousands. It all culminates in the National Speech & Debate Tournament. With 24 different competitive events, the National Tournament is the pinnacle of public speaking for speech and debate competitors from around the globe!
For nearly 100 years, the National Speech & Debate Association has built a platform for youth voices that have built the skills for actors, politicians, and our country’s leaders.
Caitlin’s powerful performance, titled “When They See Me,” covered her experience growing up as a Black girl in South Florida.
You can view and listen to Caitlin’s entire performance on Youtube at https://youtu.be/S-iL1L3aIzc.
“When They See Me”
Growing up, people always acted like I wasn’t black enough.
Like my interior and exterior were just a juxtaposition,
A sign of confusion, a diffusion
Of my white peers.
Not knowing, that I have the common black girl fears,
And, I cry the common black girl tears,
Yet still it’s always, ‘you’re so well spoken,
Clearly not a product of your environment’
And, they say it with a smile,
But I know the true sentiments,
It’s rooted in ignorance,
The need to confine me, a black girl
For what it means to be in a white man’s world.
The urge to put me, a black girl, in a box,
But I got more than four sides.
My foresight tells me that if we push the notion
That there is a guide to being our race,
We are nodding to every negative stereotype,
Trope and wrongfully convicted case.
If anything, we should be instilling
In every little black girl and boy
That they don’t need to be
Who they want them to be.
That, unlike history’s past,
When it comes to change,
We don’t have to be last.