A Poem about Equality – from a 9 year old

“I am a girl who wants equality,
I wonder about the people on the wet streets,
I hear them calling out for help.
I see everybody being equal…”

My 9 year old daughter was given some homework. She could write a poem about whatever she wanted, but it had to follow a particular structure. I left her to it, as I do with most of her written homework.

The next thing I know she’s showing me this:

I am a girl who wants equality,
I wonder about the people on the wet streets,
I hear them calling out for help.
I see everybody being equal.
I am a girl who wants equality.
I pretend racism is not there.
I feel people reaching out for me,
I touch them back in hope.
I worry about everybody in need.
I cry about how people act to disabled people.
I am a girl who wants equality.
I understand how some people get paid more than others.
I say fairness to everyone.
I try to do the best for impartiality.
I hope my dreams come true.
I am a girl who wants equality.

I gave her some synonyms for equality and the poem is as she has finished it.

Either I’m actually indoctrinating her, or she’s just well aware of the issues I am trying to address in my work.

It is the latter – I don’t sit and give my girls lessons on inequality, I don’t need to, they can see it for themselves. They were given the book “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” last Christmas and have asked me a lot about the women in there and the need for their struggles. I have on my bookshelves a lot of relevant reference books. My elder daughter (nearly 11 years old) was asking me about why Reni Eddo-Lodge had called her book that, and I tried to explain white privilege.

I’m left feeling quite sad that my 9-year old has written this poem. I am proud she has put together something so moving, such is the power of poetry, but that it has permeated her life so deeply, I don’t know whether I should have protected her more, and part of me feels no one should have to explain white privilege to a child.

And yet, here we are.

Addressing inequality is a personal mission, but it is not for just the politicians or business leaders or heads of religion to deal with, it’s everyone’s responsibility. To call it out, to back reforms, to show belief and support and champion others, and to teach our children.