Fall 2015: "Justice for All" Literary Gems

We received many powerful essays for the Spring 2015 Writing Competition. Though not every participant can win the contest, we'd like to share some excerpts that caught our eye.
A Milwaukee Black Lives Matter march. Photo by Light Brigade.

A Milwaukee Black Lives Matter march. Photo by Light Brigade.

I am a judgmental person hiding behind an unbiased mask, a gray creature who feels more than what is said.

—Annalice Ni, grade 10, International Community School, Kirkland, Wash.


Join me in creating a better nation, a safe haven for all. I’ll change the light if you make the ladder.

—Lilian Wozniak, grade 8, Palmetto Scholars Academy, North Charleston, S.C. 


Everyone has their story, but let them be the one to tell you.

—Natalie Reider, grade 11, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo.  


In Jewish tradition, the teaching of Tikkun Olam is a fundamental perspective of the world that influences the way we approach our everyday lives. The approach is an honest and confrontational one: the world is fragmented, and we must piece it back together .... The only true way to actively humanize another person is to interact.

—Neal Halper, Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn. 


Humane treatment starts with finding a better teacher than society.

—Mary-Margaret Futch, grade 8, Palmetto Scholars Academy, North Charleston, S.C 


The truth behind my rebellious nature lay beyond the baggy jeans and shredded sneakers: I was angry. Angry when people scolded me for playing in the dirt. Angry that my favorite color could not possibly extend beyond the rather limited scope of pink and purple. Angry that, unbeknownst to me, there existed some universal law that all girls should be nothing more than docile “little princesses.

—Zana Essmyer, grade 11, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, Mo


We determine the hero and villain of the story. As an audience claps for a hero, it is we who must champion justice in our own society.

—Vivian D’Souza, grade 8, Palmetto Scholars Academy, North Charleston, S.C.


 Why treat me different? It seems to me that all anyone looks at these days is skin color, not the fact that we all bleed red. As an African American it looks like to me that we are never seen as humans, only as bad people, but let me tell you a little secret… we bleed red too!

—Jackie Garth, grade 8, Columbus City Preparatory School for Girls, Columbis, Ohio. 


Fear is a puppet master, orchestrating a violent culture... In order to change our world, we must change ourselves. We have to examine our own fears before we place them on someone else. Instead of fearing or judging someone, find out who they really are.

—Noah Carey-Smith, grade 6, Manzanita School, Topanga, Calif.


If a person comes and pushes you out of their way, say something! If he's making fun of you, whatcha gonna do? Stand there until Tarzan comes swinging in on a vine? Wait until Superman picks him up high or until Wonder Woman takes him down with her Lasso of Truth?

—Abide Daniele Kapeu, grade 7, International Community School of Abidjan, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

The good, the bad, and the ugly all occur right in front of us whether it’s two love birds stopping for a short, or sometimes long, smooch, or maybe a curse that echoes through the hallway from an impatient traveler who’s running late.

—Matthew Enslin, Kirkwood High School, Kirkwood, M0.


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