In the summer of 2022, a PeacePlayer from each of the five cities answered the question “Why does PeacePlayers exist in my city?” in poem form. They presented their work to roaring applause – in front of a crowd of more than 100 PeacePlayers youth, staff and guests at the 2022 Friendship Games in Israel. Together, they paint a picture of what it means to be a young person in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Brooklyn and LA. What it means to be a young person who gives their all for their community. Here are their words.
Detroit is my home. Everybody can call it home. And it’s a wonderful place where people with any color can work together. But in Detroit, I feel like in sports I have to be Hispanic to play basketball, or I have to be Black to play basketball. As a Hispanic and Black person, I shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable, or have different privileges than other Hispanic or Black people. But in PeacePlayers, they changed that for me. They made me feel comfortable playing with anybody with different cultures or different religions, and it turned me into a better leader than I’ve ever been before.
Yeah, Detroit can be anybody’s home, but Chicago’s where it’s at.
We actually call just be windy and to hold the peace still
We don’t gotta be super fortunate to see everything
Let’s just watch your face light up, take pictures at the Bean, take the Blue-Line Metro to Millenium Park.
We’ll leave the caps, we shouldn’t need them.
Let Chance rep the South Side with pride.
Unfortunately, let’s wait for Zach LaVine and the Bulls to get a title,
And thank Jordan for six.
We don’t have to be born with riches to play ball either.
It’s free to put a ball in a net, it’s free to build bonds.
We’re part of the golden city: Los Angeles, Chicago, New York,
So let’s show the world, this is what PeacePlayers could do.
“From Edgar Allen Poe to shouting out “Let’s go O’s,” Baltimore is home.
From bridging divides east to west, to the best national crab fest, Baltimore is home.
Although the presence of redlining affects black and brown communities, we find ways to rise despite the demise because Baltimore is home.
The inner harbor, where many people come together, live lights, music and shows, dancing from the soles of our feet to the roots of our souls because Baltimore is home
What makes us unique and maybe even complete is our ability to meet at peace, our ability to join together as one playing basketball having fun as seeds of new life and leaders of unison because Baltimore is home
In the broke cracks of the city’s concrete jungle, new life buds. Baltimore breeds players of peace, ambassadors that bring communities together, stretching, extending and amplifying peace to reach and connect youth leaders throughout the city because Baltimore should be home and a home should be formed in peace.
Then there’s me. The sum of the most beautiful pieces of love imperfectly perfect, a rich collection of all that is black, strong and resilient because Baltimore is home.
Baltimore is home, but I’m from Brooklyn.
I’m talking about Notorious B.I.G, Jay-Z, Lil’ Kim, Busta Rhymes, Pop Smoke type Brooklyn.
I’m from Brooklyn
I’m from Brooklyn, where we yell “yuuuuurrrrr” across the street when we see a face we know.
But I’m from Brooklyn, though. Where taking a walk at night or playing ball in a park can turn into a wrong place, wrong time type situation.
Advocacy. I stand up against gun violence, violence in general.
As a 16-year-old, I shouldn’t have to look over my shoulder, my mom shouldn’t have to worry every five minutes whether I’m safe or not.
No teenager should have to walk around with a weapon for protection, no one should feel anxious or scared to be outside.
Let me tell you how… how one little detail can affect the nature of an environment.
How a 16-year-old in love with the game of basketball, whose life was cut short due to gun violence, can trigger a change in a community,
How gun violence and gang violence can bring PeacePlayers into a neighborhood like Brownsville,
Bringing the community together and helping people become leaders is what PeacePlayers is known to do,
How they can prevent situations like his just over a game where we score a ball into a net,
How it comes to show that what we say and do makes a difference in other people’s lives.
We advocate for PeacePlayers. This is our home.
And then, there’s LA – last but definitely not least,
City of angels, where fame and fortune are constantly being dangled,
Where dreams easily come true, but remember,
Dreams are not always easy to pursue.
Something crazy though is – everyone from LA knows each other,
Which can lead to more connections, some for good, some for bad.
And we may not have the amazing skyline of Brooklyn,
or all the Motown music from Detroit,
or the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore,
or the amazing 32 miles of just beach from Chicago.
But that doesn’t change the fact that we can all come together.
And remember this.
Differences aren’t always comfortable, but differences can bring us closer together.
And I can tell you, not everyone is comfortable yet,
And that’s ok.
The more we embrace our differences, the more at ease we’ll feel.
I’m Bree from LA, and this is PeacePlayer U.S.