Tag: kryptonite

Kryptonite and Water

This March, I met an amazing young woman from Flint named Kayla Shannon at Freshwater Future’s All About Water conference in Detroit, Michigan.  This conference brought together an extraordinary group of people and organizations across the state from the grassroots, the environment and policy community, and academia, all committed to sharing their diverse experiences and knowledge about the current and growing water crises we face here in Michigan and the Great Lakes.  

A youth panel from Flint featured five young women who shared their personal and vivid experiences about growing up and living in a poisoned city where they cannot trust the very water from their tap.  Among these young women was Kayla Shannon, a 16-year-old writer and poet, who performed a piece called Kryptonite as spoken word.  Listen to the power of her voice.  Feel the strength of her conviction, her palpable grit and her desire for transformative change, equity, and decency.  

– Liz Kirkwood


Kryptonite ©
By: Kayla Shannon

I’ve never been burned by fire
But I imagine that’s how it feels when you’re told your child tests positive for lead poisoning
Like being helpless
Like being mocked by the four Great Lakes your state touches
To live in my city
Is to know of friendship with poison
Having your life source spiked by Grim Reaper
It is living like third world country
As a citizen of the most powerful nation in the world
Cause see, you never know what you have until it’s gone
So maybe our emergency managers were hoping to teach us appreciation
At 6, I thought the most important thing in the world was money
At 16, I’m learning that even the things I need to survive aren’t promised
That the monsters aren’t under my bed, they’re sitting in office
And I am convinced that my Governor graduated valedictorian of White Supremacy University
With a masters in gentrification
That his biggest dream as a child was to become a king
But since America is a democracy
And he way under qualified to become president
He settled for the next best thing
I am convinced that he played war games as a child instead of freeze tag
It’s the only reason I’ve been able to think of for why he saw Flint’s well being as an afterthought
After stress, after pain, after death
Saw an easy target standing still
Took his shot with both eyes open
Is it possible for a city to be your home, and still your biggest weakness?
This lead be Kryptonite
A silent killer for cowards
He attacked us, using our homes as a weapon
Shot lead bullets into our bloodstreams
Called it an accident, a misstep
When in reality, it was the beginning of a war he waged without our permission
But Flintstones be superhuman
Our powers boundless despite our enemies attempts to use our strength against us
Just last week, I met a woman strong enough to lift her whole family out of debt
Saw a city fly in to rescue their neighbors
My best friend been using her battle scars as motivation
Our government thought they broke something
Maybe out hope, along with our infrastructure
When in reality, they rewrote something
Gave our comic book new beginning
Cause see Flint, can’t spark fire till you hit it
And yeah, my city been hit
But our backbones are stronger than they could ever imagine
Yeah, my city been hit
But we’ve been fighting for years to keep our heads above water
So, warfare comes as nothing new to us
Step back, and watch us do what we’re best at
Cause see, nothing ever been handed to us easy, or simple
Every plot involving black characters comes with a twist
And we’ve never been able to back down
So, yes
My home is being used as Kryptonite
But Superman ain’t lost a fight yet


About the author:

I came from large a family, which opened me to many different perspectives of life from an early age. My hero is really multiple people. I look up to anyone who raises their voices to accomplish a goal for the betterment of society, even on issues that do not necessarily affect them personally. My motivation is the work that still needs to be done. My motivation is also the knowledge that there are generations to come that will be affected my decisions, good or bad. I hope for a time when everyone will recognize injustice within our society. As they say, the first step to change is understanding that a problem exists. I yearn not for perfection, but for the drive that causes improvement to be achieved over time.

Pre-crisis I was in middle school, so most talk was the average: boys, homework, and homework. Now, I speak more with them about the future pertaining to the city of Flint. There is fear, anger, and mistrust within the city that needs to be addressed before they worsen. I want people to know that I am a 16-year-old sophomore who is passionate about social justice work. I have been heavily involved in this work for about three years now and it has majorly impacted my life path. I have traveled the country performing spoken word in places such as Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Although I have accomplished a lot, I thank God every day for every blessing, because without him, I would not be who I am.