MSU alumnus and poet William T. Langford IV performs “Schooled”

(footsteps) – One minute, I was a poet
at Detroit’s Cass Tech High, the next, a reality check, I was a Spartan marching amongst the thousands. I bet you felt it. On a Tuesday, between organic chemistry and lunch at the Union, it hits you. You’re from another time zone and you’re the only one like you. Tucked in the palm of the mitten you can’t see yourself fitting in here. Frigid winter white outs, go green, go white shout outs. You’ve got your campus map out. The midnight scream during finals week, all this at the expense
of your beauty sleep. Back home, maybe they roll tide or the Friday night lights
shine on games of cricket. Maybe there’s a sea breeze and salt smell and not these salted sidewalks chalked in graffiti stenciled. You penciled in a chat with your mother, which begat the feeling that
you’re out of your depth, which begat something
nasty deep in your chest. You can expel it, you are
different, you are wanted here. Vibing like viving through our veins, these chains are begging to be broken. We’re choking on the dust of indifference, but spitting back our insistence that coexistence is not enough. These chains, nagging links are begging
to be broken by the sun, rising on the day when I’m
not taken to be a token except for the fact that
do stand for change. Choking on the glass of class and status at the back of my throat, I do stand for change. It’s rolling along the
banks of this red cedar. I see it there, in you. Hunched over a book, sprinting headlong on the track, headstrong in a lecture, waste deep in conjecture, that expects that we’ll connect with respect for the reality that we are vastly different, like magma and mercury
rising to the occasion to celebrate what makes us, if only in a smile, say
you are welcome here. Poet, preacher, teacher, reacher out, salsa dancer, freelancer, le gourmet cooks, deep in your books, it’s all here under this sun, this sun yearns for it. Because a dream lives here in our sparks, in our kindling. We have only to let it burn. (footsteps)

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