POETRY

What Representation Isn’t

A poem about inclusion and diversity.

Alex Mell-Taylor
1 min readJan 30, 2023

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NBC Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Representation is a gift

Something that gives people hope.

A fixture they can point to on high

And say, “I can do that too.”

Representation is cool.

A trend TV execs and publishers

can tell their assistants to

“get on.”

Representation is a war.

A battleground where people decide

What forms do

And do not belong.

Representation is a closed door.

A barrier people can point to

And say, “We don’t exclude others.

Look at her.”

Representation is charity.

Something given to those who have little,

So those that have much more

may feel like good people.

Representation is a salve.

A palliative given so that those being crushed

do not imagine beyond the table

stacked on top of their backs.

Representation is a ghost.

Something that haunts those who have everything,

with what they have taken

And the privileges they may lose.

Representation is a collective complaint.

A reminder of cruelties inflicted

and promises broken.

A howl for change.

We know what representation is.

What it isn’t reparations.

What it isn’t healthcare.

What it isn’t a roof over your head.

What it isn’t justice.

Representation may give you hope.

It might guide and fuel,

but it will never free you.

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