By Dean Holmes

FIVE disgusted stares coming from all directions 

Roses are red; violets are blue. More than likely I do not look like you. Like a clown in a courthouse or a fish in the desert, I have been on the outside for a large portion of my life. Since first grade, I’ve been a student at white majority private schools. Without a doubt, I am grateful that my parents pushed for me to have the best education possible; however, on the other hand, attending these schools, there is definitely a learning curve.

Dean Holmes had to choose between not graduating with his class at York Catholic High School, July 28 and subjecting himself to full exposure without the mask, the message of which was found offensive. (Courtesy photo

FOUR elementary students

In my second grade class, we did a class project where all of the students studied a different African country. While studying the country of Niger, one of my classmates called me the “n” word. Unsure of what to do given the current circumstances, I did nothing. At that moment I resembled the g in lasagna; I was silent. When I got home from school that day my dad asked his daily “how was school today, Dean?” I responded with “it was good, but one of the students called me the “n” word.” He was in shock. One typically does not send his kid to school and expect this to occur. 

What followed was a THREE-way phone call between my mom, dad and my teacher, a meeting and a quasi-sincere apology. With my seven-year-old brain, I could not comprehend to the fullest extent what really happened, but as time passed and similar experiences transpired, I slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together. As I got older I developed a tattoo in the back of my mind that says “will it always be like this?” 

Roses are red; violets are blue. I do not really know what to do. The feeling of my mom telling me to proceed with caution every time I leave the house hoping that the fruit of her womb does not become a strange fruit hanging from a tree. The worries of being told I am too black to hang with the white kids and too white to hang with the black kids. The shackles and restraints that are only there in spirit which keep me from ending up as just another statistic. This is the baggage I carry with me on a daily basis. 

TWO kids getting charged for the same crime; the one with more melanin in his skin has a longer sentence

Today in 2019, hopefully, people have enough awareness not to use the “n” word, but racism has changed forms. Nuanced strikes and microaggressions seem to have taken over. To the blind eye, racism and prejudice may seem to have disappeared, but to the victim, is it like a stapler dropping in a quiet room. 

Roses may be red, and violets may be blue, but why does it matter? Why is it when talking about roses and violets the first thing to be said about them is their color? Why can’t they be recognized solely for what they are? They are just flowers.

ONE human race 

This essay by Dean Holmes, an entry into the speech contest at York Catholic High School, garnered 106 out of a possible 100 points; but was not read, as planned, because of its controversial nature.