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D’Neise Robinson

on April 30, 2013

D’Neise Robinson has something to say.

Tornadoes ain’t got sh*t on me.

I’m poverty.

Her peers snap their fingers to show they’re impressed by her skills. In the front row are some of her closest girlfriends, ready to perform their poetry at the RAW Talent slam. A few days earlier, a fellow slam student named Dimarea Young was gunned down close by. Police crowded his neighborhood, middle-aged men openly regretted their involvement in the crack epidemic, and Young’s girlfriend shrieked with rage and mourning.

Robinson keeps going.

Do you not see the damage he has caused to our family?

Drug epidemic, gun violence, my twin baby brothers locked behind bars

For life, to the system of greed.

Mommy, stand up.

Her voice sounds like it should belong to an older woman, a woman who’s finally learned to trust her instincts and speak from her core after years of being told not to. But D’Neise is just a month away from her 18th birthday, not technically an adult.

These photos are the story of D’Neise Robinson: A slam poetry queen, a friend who roots the loudest for her girls, the actress playing Harmony in “Te’s Harmony,” a child who’s grown up amidst tremendous violence. A success. This is the story of how  a community invests in its young people; to build them up when everything around seems bent on tearing them down.

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