Atlanta teen's "White Privilege" poem goes viral

White privilege poem
White privilege poem 01:54

ATLANTA -- Since the violence that shook America last week, a poem written and performed by an Atlanta teenager this past spring has been getting new attention. In fact, it has gone viral.

"White Boy Privilege" was an entry in a school poetry contest.

"To be honest I am scared of what it would be like if i wasn't on the top rung, if the tables were turned, and I didn't have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me," Royce Mann recited at the poetry contest.

Mann's message was a plea from a 14-year-old white male going to a private school in Atlanta: let everyone share his privileges.

Royce Mann reciting his poem. CBS News

"I love it because when I see a police officer, I see someone who's on my side," he recited.

Mann told CBS News he is just trying to be truthful.

"And that I wouldn't trade places with anyone," he said. "Because I think a lot of people aren't truthful about that."

Racial divisions seared America last week. After Minnesota and Baton Rouge, Mann's poem struck a nerve online.

Many loved it. Others attacked him.

Dallas recovering 05:55

More than eight million people have seen it.

"Everyone should have the privileges that I have," Mann recited. "Everyone's story should be written so all they have to do is get it read... I get that change can be scary but equality shouldn't be..."

Mann said he is not asking anyone to give up their dreams.

"I am not asking anyone to give up their quality," he said. "When you see something that is wrong, that is discrimination, speak up."

He finished his poem with talking about fear.

"It's time to let go of that fear," he recited. "It's time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge."

Mann won that poetry contest.

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    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.