Slam Poem: Labels | Teen Ink

Slam Poem: Labels

December 11, 2013
By Tobirue SILVER, Centerville, Iowa
Tobirue SILVER, Centerville, Iowa
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Ever since was an itty, bitty boy
I’ve been taught to categorize and label things
“Find the thing that doesn’t match
Find it quick and find it fast
Point at it and single it out
Then remove it without a doubt.”
“Find the things that are the same
Uniform and identical
Group them on size and on shape
Capture them in your circle of pencil.”
But it wasn’t just me
All of us, since childhood have been taught to
Group things and point out things that don’t belong

And it’s only a matter of time before you
Stop grouping things, for you grow bored
You start grouping people, for that is more fun
You find the one that doesn’t belong and single it out
And soon they aren’t people to you anymore, they’re objects
Emotionless, unfeeling.
You begin to see how they look unique
and how they look the same
That one’s big and that one’s fat.
That one’s tiny and looks like a cat.
That one’s gross and smells like a dog,
That one’s just nasty and looks like a hog.
But when did people become objects
When did we give ourselves the right to analyze them
To point out their every single characteristic and flaw
And the sad part is, I’m only beginning

As we grow older and “wiser” we begin to notice
The “positive” and “negative” qualities that people possess
Let’s take high school for an example.
“Her stomach’s bulging, she must be knocked up
His breath smells funny he must have had a cup
Of alcohol or maybe he smoked a joint.”
We make these observations, but what is our point?
“His voice sounds funny. He must be gay.
Her clothes are skimpy. She must lay
With every guy that comes her way.”
But what gives us the right to label each other?
Do I look like loaf of bread, label upon my back?
Do I look like a fricken lab rat?
If you’re too blind to answer, the answer is no
I am who I am, and that’s going to show.

I myself have faced a…. bountiful amount of labels.
“Gay and fat
Annoying and creepy
Weird and nerdy
Unlikable and weepy.”
But what happened to “Only God can judge us?”
You would think that the “bullies” are the only ones who do this.
But everyone does. Even my “friends”.
“You’re really weird, or you’re really loud.”
I hear these labels and try to push them out
I pound on my head and I scream and I shout.

At this point I have one of two options.
I can either A: Get mad at the world and believe how horrible everyone else is.
Or there’s B: I can take these labels as truth, for not everyone can be wrong….
It must be me. I must be deplorable.

Needless to say I choose option B.
These labels they seem to follow me
Like they’re attached to my soul
And like arrows through me they create many a hole.
You can only hear something so many times before you begin to question and believe it.
I must be weird. I must be fat.
But am I gay? Am I really?
I must be. For that’s what they spat.
Am I really that unlikable, weird, and creepy?
Of course it’s true. Why else would they say it about me?

I isolate myself and I wonder why
Everyone else is so perfect and happy
While I seem to be falling aside
But if I look closely when they speak to me
I can see it in their eyes.
They aren’t truly happy for you see
They’ve built themselves a mansion of insults
Every time they tear someone else down, it’s like they’re building their own self up.
But I can see something that they can’t see
Their mansion of insults is like a house of cards
And every time they get hurt or insulted
It gets knocked down and they have to rebuild it
Insult by insult and word by word.
Pointing out flaws whilst digging new hurts.
And it’s then that I have my moment
Of revelation and of clarity
Did they really mean those things about me?
Well, maybe. But were they true?
Or were they just a meager attempt to add another card to their crumbling house.

You see, if you think about it.
Many of us are still stuck in kindergarten.
“Find the thing that doesn’t match
Find it quick and find it fast
Point at it and single it out
Then remove it without a doubt.”
However, though we point things out as different
We forget to remember how we’re all the same.
“Find the things that are the same
Uniform and identical
Group them on size and on shape
Capture them in your circle of pencil.”
Well, I’m alive and you’re alive.
I get hurt and you get hurt.
I feel pain and you feel pain.
I have days where I feel like I can’t go on!
And so do you.

You see we try to find the flaws in each other
Labeling and pointing out those who don’t belong.
But in reality we all do.
We’re all the same. We’re all human.
So let’s stop labeling which drives wedges between us
And let’s start find our similarities, which bring us closer together.
And let’s make the decision that whether
Someone is skinny and tall or constantly prone to trip and fall
We’ll find their good qualities and their similarities with us
Instead of taking the easy way out and slapping a label upon them.
Don’t build your mansion out of cards. Build it out of bricks.
Don’t build your life out of labels. Build it out of community.

The author's comments:
I'm really proud of this poem and it took me a lot of time and effort to come up with :) It truly comes from my heart.

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This article has 2 comments.

JAS2 said...
on Feb. 3 2020 at 12:09 pm
JAS2, Oakland, Iowa
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I have a high school speech student that would like to perform this for speech contests. How do we go about getting permission for her to do that?

on Oct. 13 2016 at 11:47 pm
Wow... I can't believe noone else has commented on this it's really good