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Poetry collected and featured on the Office of Diversity Initiatives Website

Don’t Quit The questions we have If unanswered Will influence the decisions we make And you living a life filled with unanswered questions is a chance I am not willing to take So The question of the day is Why should you not quit? Here is my spill on it You have every reason to And I won’t spit the line Excuses are the tools of the incompetent Because honey you are far from incompetent Matter of fact you understand Every word that is coming out of my mouth I highly doubt, That anyone can tell you what your life is about See you Have so much to offer And you Are the only author of your story Don’t let someone snatch your pencil and pad Scratch out your future And erase your past Take your present And make your presence seem like it’s everything but a gift Don’t let them take away your passion The very thing that makes you live Ladies I know the fellas may not feel the same But you don’t have to get on your knees to use your brain They told you the only position You should be in is laying on your back

Forget that Tell them the only time you see position Is after the word executive Angels you are heaven sent Anything that speaks against that is irrelevant My hope is for you to gain AUTHENTIC CONFIDENCE You exert prominence Fellas give your all Your life is more than dribbling or throwing a ball It drives me insane That your worth is tied within a game Just because we may have been born illegitimate Should not be our legitimate Reason to quit We have been raped and molested Abused physically and emotionally Mothers at work while we have to be babysitter Daddy was never there…Go Figure No male figures in our lives But here is my answer Here is my advice I don’t know your story The last thing I want to do Is intrude You are powerful beyond measure And trust your situation will get better But in order for this to work To yourself you must remain true Don’t quit for anyone else Don’t quit for you

-Shanequa Bernard 2011-2012 LEGACY Scholar

THE DIVERSITY CREED By Gene Griessman, Ph.D. © 1993


BELIEVE that diversity is a part of the natural order of things—as natural as the trillion shapes and shades of the flowers of spring or the leaves of autumn. I believe that diversity brings new solutions to an ever-changing environment, and that sameness is not only uninteresting but limiting. To deny diversity is to deny life—with all its richness and manifold opportunities. Thus, I affirm my citizenship in a world of diversity, and with it the responsibility to... • Be tolerant. Live and let live. Understand that those who cause no harm should not be feared, ridiculed, or harmed— even if they are different. • Look for the best in others. • Be just in my dealings with poor and rich, weak and strong, and whenever possible to defend the young, the old, the frail, the defenseless. • Avoid needless conflicts and diversions, but be always willing to change for the better that which can be changed. • Seek knowledge in order to know what can be changed, as well as what cannot be changed. • Forge alliances with others who love liberty and justice. • Be kind, remembering how fragile the human spirit is. • Live the examined life, subjecting my motives and actions to the scrutiny of mind and heart so to rise above prejudice and hatred. • Care.

Two Wolves A Native American grandmother was talking to her granddaughter about how she felt about the tragedy. She said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” The granddaughter asked her, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” The grandmother answered, “The one I feed.” - Anonymous

The Cold Within Six humans trapped by happenstance In bleak and bitter cold Each one possessed a stick of wood, Or so the story’s told. Their dying fire in need of logs, The first woman held hers back, For on the faces ‘round the fire, She noticed one was Black. The next man looking ‘cross the way Saw one not of his church, And couldn’t bring himself to give The fire his stick of birch. The third one sat in tattered clothes He gave his coat a hitch, Why should his log be put to use To warm the idle rich? The rich man just sat back and thought Of the wealth he had in store, And how to keep what he had earned From the lazy, shiftless poor. The black man’s face bespoke revenge As the fire passed from sight, For all he saw in his stick of wood Was a chance to spite the white. And the last man of this forlorn group Did naught except for gain, Giving only to those who gave Was how he played the game. The logs held tight in death’s still hands Was proof of human sin. They didn’t die from the cold without, They died from the cold within. - James Patrick Kinney

Where Monsters Can Grow Beware of the monsters Who dwell in the mind, Who grow in the shelter Of shadows they find. Beware of the demons Who hide from the light, Who only survive When our spirits lose sight. Those creatures can thrive Where our knowledge is low; They fill in the spaces Of what we don’t know. Beware of the monsters That cause us to hate, To strike out in anger When we can’t relate. For ignorance darkens The mind and the heart, And helps all our monsters To tear us apart. But learning and thinking Will strengthen us so We won’t be the places Where monsters can grow. - Anonymous

Me and My M&M’s I have always liked M&M’s The most diverse multicultural integrated candy in the world. You have your red ones your yellow ones your blue ones your orange ones your brown ones and your green ones. All in one package; all co-existing together. One color doesn’t think that it is superior to the other. One color doesn’t discriminate against the other.

All colors are the same size shape and weight. All colors look different on the outside, but have the same ingredients on the inside. M&M’s all have the same flavor and they all taste G-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-d! Not all M&M’s are perfect though. Some have nuts! In the real world we call them racists and bigots. Wouldn’t it be nice if like M&M’s our prejudices melted into the abyss like chocolate melts in our mouth and all people were judged by what was inside rather than the color you see on the outside? If candy can be prejudice free why can’t we??? - Dr. Marilyn Kern Foxante

What is the Cost? You have defined what I must be and not be. For when I become what you want me to be, It is easy for you to explain me. I, then, become the exception. You, then, become comfortable. When I choose, however, not to be, what you would have me be, But rather to be, just me, I reinforce all you have created and believed me to be – wrong. Your judgment becomes my charge. I’m found guilty with no process for explanation or exception. For it is you that sets the rules; Determines what is right and acceptable. It is you that defines normal, functional, loving and good. I must sit and hear the charges, the misdeeds, the accusations and your words, which would explain me away. I, then, must hear the sentence. And the sentence is always the same. It is separation. The cost of separation is great and often immeasurable; Its cumulative effect debilitating and painful. If I choose to accept all that is said and believed, Which neither completely defines me or is true, Then I lose a little more of me through each experience. And in the process, you also lose me. As my parent, you separate me from your loving, nurturing guidance, direction and wisdom A bond of love founded in the deepest sense of a parent and child Relationship is broken. Acceptance of a child’s love and being becomes rejections, Because of the humiliation and shame. It costs me to lose that part of me which is also a part of you. And in the process, it also costs you. As my sister or my brother, You separate me from the memories of a childhood. Safety was defined as holding each other tight During the thunderstorms or

Sharing our beds as a refuge from the monsters we imagined. It costs me the fellowship and communion of you, The families we have chosen and the lives created. And in the process, it also costs you. As my friend, you separate me from my family of choice. The laughter and the tears shared as we spoke of lives, Forever intertwined; now dismissed as invalid and meaningless. It costs me the love and support of someone who completes me. And in the process, it also costs you. As my coworker, you separate me from the collaboration, the skills and brilliance I bring to enrich the jobs we do, together. Invalidating who I am, gives the reason to judge me as aloof and unwilling to participate fully as a valuable team member. It costs me career and financial success. And in the process, it also costs you. As my employer, you separate me From fully participating in my work experience. Policies and procedures continue to treat me as some exception, rather than a part of. I must decide, constantly, if I am being judged on the work I do Or the person you perceive me to be. And how will I really know the difference? The energy required being, not who I am, affects my doing. It steals my creativity, impacts my best thinking And affects my full participation in the work I have chosen. It costs me my wholeness. And in the process it also costs you. As my religion, you separate me from a loving God who Created me in His very image. A God who knew me before I was born, somehow now considers Me an abomination, a deviant bound for an eternity of hell. Your judgment of me becomes the log preventing clarity of sight to the beauty and magnificent of one of God’s perfect children. The fear you impose of an angry, defiant Creator, Produces further evidence you have gained the wisdom To stand and judge, but not to be judged. You demand accountability, for who I am,

But refuse to be accountable as you judge. It costs me the fellowship and joy of communing With you as children of an omnipotent and omniscient God. And in the process, it also costs you. As my community and greater society Where I live and participate, You separate me from the laws and benefits Afforded to all your citizens. You characterize me as immoral, Not to be trusted with young children, When all evidence says otherwise. You would say my desire to fully participate as a citizen, Is demanding special rights. Asking for protection in my workplace, Or safety where I live and contribute, Is seen as seeking privileges about those granted to everyone. You would dismiss my cry for equality, In recognizing my loving relationship and The financial benefits it would bring, As a means to destroy the institution of marriage. Asking for laws providing the same rights & procedures To adopt and retain my children, Are ruled as further evidence of an agenda, which doesn’t exist. Pleading for the right to visit my loved one in a care facility, Is explained away as unnecessary, Because I don’t really qualify as family. Begging for laws protecting my rights to property jointly owned, Are ignored because the relationship has no value, Regardless of the number of years shared.

And although you want my tax dollars, you do not want me. I cannot fully participate as a member of our community, Or in the greater society. It costs me financially, emotionally and in some cases, It may cost me my life. It costs me my belonging; being included. And in the process, it also costs you. How then can we end the separation? What do we do to reduce the cost? We must recognize the uniqueness of each one of us Is the beauty of a tapestry defined by our collective humanness. There is no hierarchy of value, As there is none for the oppression experienced. The oppressed must never become the oppressor, But rather join in creating a place and holding a space Where each voice is heard and each experience validated. It is in my place of complete communion, Where each one brings their fullness of self, Brilliance of thought, and beauty of Spirit, Where the separation ends and unity begins. - Michael Freeman

Poetry on UCF Diversity Initiatives Website  

Diverse Poetry Featured on UCF Diversity Website