Azariah Cole-Shephard

Azariah Cole-Shephard is Oakland’s 2016 Youth Poet Laureate. She is a freshman at Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering – San Jose State University. Poetry became her voice in eighth grade. Azariah’s world views are highly illustrated in the poetry that she writes as she addresses both personal and cultural battles that she participates in. Poetry is important to her because it is a unique way to articulate truth and educate those around her in the process.

As a black woman within a society that aims to silence and erase us from important conversations, she believes that her ability to articulate her position on social issues is extremely powerful. Azariah feels that the most significant contribution she’s made to her community is her advocacy for youth who face struggles similar to hers and are seeking knowledge of self as well as cultural context. She spends her free time mentoring and tutoring at her school as well as at her church and she has seen youth flourish into strong individuals as they develop a sense of self-confidence.


The #BlackGirlBreakdown

by Azariah Cole-Shephard, age 17

Let’s talk about black girls.
You know those angry girls?
Them loud girls.
Don’t forget they’re ratchet.
And oh my god their hair!
It’s SO nappy and unkempt.
But the light skin girls are bad yo.
Bright like the sun, the beauty and the brains.
They drop knowledge in class.
But they never text back.
Still my #WCW though
And them dark skin girls!
Gosh they’re the worst!
Large breasts and a big mouth.
There isn’t much to her.
She’s simple minded and lacks all self respect
I mean she’s always mad
Nobody can keep her in check.
Actually you're wrong
We're Black girls and we're MAGICAL

From our corn rows and locs
To our afros and bantu knots
They swoop in on our culture
And find comedy where we do not
Black face, Big disgrace
Not equal to the human race but love our culture dearly
Caress it like you hyper sexualize our women
Romanticize their hips and their lips
Dang shawty you cakin
Just started a new trend
Ignore the fact that the negro already had it.
Call me blacky and try to attack me but don’t understand that without me you don’t exist
White culture is a knock off of everybody under surveillance.
If that’s the case then society should curtail it. 
Cut off the savagery as you work maniacally to immobilize the intelligent.

Stop undermining black women and calling us belligerent
 understand that when you degrading, we ain't listening. 
Uplift yourself cuz they gonna objectify you
 and when it comes to where they found it
you know they gon deny you. 
They gone shoot us and watch
as their brothers and sisters swoop in and partake in culture foreign to their understanding. 

Our hair is always political
but you won't catch us in politics
they choose when we can have access
and shut it off with a switch. 
But maybe we should flip the script. 
The revolution won't be televised
but you'll know it's going down when you see our fists.