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Sha'Niel - Summer Poetry Contest

Our 1st Place Winner of the Summer Poetry Contest was Aiyanna Da'Briel also known as Shaa.niel.

Get to know her!


Aiyana Sha’niel is a poet from Los Angeles, California. She has been writing for the past three years on her high school’s poetry team, “HamLit”. Sha’niel has performed at countless open mics and poetry slams including Da Poetry Lounge, The Backyart Show, and Get Lit Poetry. She is currently working on being a lyricist and is writing a poetry book of her own.


I Bang

*Dedicated to the white teacher who thought my bandana hair tie was gang affiliation*

Do I bang...?


Of course I “bang” see

I wear this bandana not only to represent my colors

But also to protect my mind from more subconscious brainwashing

See, we all hide under these zip up hoods to distract you

From the broken one you suspect we live in

And notice when you watch me walking across the basketball court

I’m always with the homies

Because when I am by myself im as weak as my lungs when you begin to attack

“I. Can’t. Breathe”


I bang because my daddy did

Or at least that’s what I had heard

He was handcuffed and arrested before he could say a word

And you know what’s ridiculous- What’s really absurd

Was that he was actually innocent but that’s not what cops averred

And last night pinned down on that floor you know those words were slurred

You thug, you coon, callin him a monkey and a nigg

Petrified I can’t deny, I wish that I was white

Because maybe that’s the right way

To cross the street

To sell a damn mixtape

To sit in a church

To live

So yes I wear red and blue at the same time

to neutralize the statements being made

Because if I’m caught wearing only one

I get too afraid

About the same damn colors flashing behind me...

So yeah I bang

My music through my earbuds to silence the sounding sirens swerving behind me

I bang books

because the rest of my family is locked up for “crip” creeping a little too far across the street

I bang

my fists in the face of fury

Instead of pulling a trigger

Ending up just another nigga behind bars

So yeah... I bang

Don’t you?

- Sha'Niel




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