Royce Mann, 14, talks about his slam poem “White-Boy Privilege” on HLN’s The Daily Share.
The Daily Share via CNN

This 14-year-old Atlanta boy probably deserves a spot on the “Woke White People” list.

Royce Mann, an eighth-grader at the Paideia School in Atlanta, has stirred up a lot of discussion after video of him performing a poem titled "White-Boy Privilege" at a slam-poetry competition at his school in May went viral.

"Dear women, I'm sorry. Dear black people, I'm sorry. Dear Asian Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who came here seeking a better life, I'm sorry. Dear everyone who isn't a middle- or upper-class white boy, I'm sorry. I have started life on the top of the ladder, while you were born on the first rung," Royce begins his poem, before continuing to address the barriers that many people who are not white or male often face as they go through life.

"There are definitely people who do deny that white privilege and male privilege exists," Royce told HLN's The Daily Share, according to CNN. "I think that's because they choose to not see it in our world. They choose to see the progress that we have made. And a lot of kids, they learn these days when they're learning about the civil rights movement, for example, it's sort of put into their heads that now we're all equal. And so much progress has been made, but there's still a long way to go."

Royce said that he's trying to start a conversation with those who may not totally understand the issue.


"I want to reach the people who are ready to have an open dialogue about this. There have been a lot of people who have commented on YouTube and just said insults without mentioning the content of my poem or my beliefs," Royce explained. "But if they say, 'I disagree with you; here's why,' and then explain it some, then I will be more than willing to discuss it with them."

Royce told HLN that he had always been aware of white privilege and male privilege but was not aware how prevalent it was across our society until he took a class at his school called Race, Class and Gender.

He gave a nod to Alton Sterling's son, 15-year-old Cameron Sterling, who lost his father after officers shot him during a confrontation in Baton Rouge, La., as a source of inspiration: "Alton Sterling's son was really inspiring. This soon after losing his father to police brutality that definitely shouldn't have happened, to tell protesters to act in a nonviolent way."


The 14-year-old shied away from praise he has received for his poem, saying, "I'm not the hero of this movement or anything. There are definitely a lot of people who've done a lot more than me. I'm just trying to do my part.

"Some people feel that I'm ashamed of my race. … In reality, I'm not ashamed at all. Nobody should be ashamed of their race because that's an uncontrollable thing. I was born this way and nobody should be ashamed of that," Royce added.

Watch Royce perform his entire poem below: