The 2018 Colorism Healing Writing Contest is now open! Let’s challenge each other to face and express some of the hard truths about colorism. Whether or not you consider yourself a “writer” doesn’t matter. What matters is having the courage to stand in your truth, being brave enough and bold enough to speak out. If you’re ready, study the guidelines below and enter your writing by April 30th.


11:59 p.m. CST on April 30, 2018



Donney Rose

Donney Rose  is a poet, teaching artist, and community activist from Baton Rouge. He works as a teaching artist and marketing director for an arts-based non-profit, Forward Arts Inc. Donney is the author of, The Crying Buck, an acclaimed chapbook of poetry that delves into Black masculinity and vulnerability through a critical lens. His work as a performance poet/writer has been featured on Atlanta Black Star, Blavity, Button Poetry, All Def Digital, Slam Find, 225 Magazine; and in the journals Drunk In A Midnight Choir and Gris Gris, Nicholls State’s literary journal. His work as a community activist has been highlighted by the BBC, Huffington Post, New York Times, Democracy Now, and The Advocate. He received the Humanitarian of the Year award at the 2016 New V Awards for promoting activism through his art and is a member of Baton Rouge Business Report’s 2017 “Forty Under 40” class.

Benjamin Washington

Benjamin Washington is a 23 year old Spoken Word artist from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Since the age of 14, Benjamin has been involved in the spoken word scene starting from his sophomore year in high. In that time, Benjamin led Istrouma High School to back to back All-City Teen Poetry Slam Championships from 2011-2012, along with being selected as one of the “Top 6” youth poets to represent Baton Rouge at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam in 2011. Upon graduating from Istrouma High School in 2013, Benjamin attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he founded the campus organization, PowerfUL Poets. While serving as Founder and President, Benjamin led his team to a 1st Place victory in the Louisiana Collegiate Slam, which consisted of teams from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Grambling State University in Ruston, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. From that victory, Benjamin, along with two team members Jalen Shelvin and Dexter Portalis, formed the spoken word collective BlackSmith. In present day, Benjamin , along with his group BlackSmith, have been paving their own lane in the spoken word world. From opening up for the Mayor of Baton Rouge to packing 60+ people in a small coffee shop in Port Allen, Louisiana for their very first show, BlackSmith has been moving across the Louisiana area performing and receiving support in droves. Benjamin’s debut spoken word album “G3,” can be found on BandCamp at

Awards (apply to all divisions)

  • 1st Place: $75 plus publication online and in the 2018 print book
  • 2nd Place: $50 plus publication online and in the 2018 print book
  • 3rd Place: publication online and in the 2018 print book
  • Editor’s Pick: publication in the 2018 print book


  • Youth Essay (ages 19 and younger)
  • Adult Essay (ages 20 and older)
  • Youth Poetry (ages 19 and younger)
  • Adult Poetry (ages 20 and older)

Contest Rules

  • We are looking for pieces that directly address the topic of colorism—defined as bias or discrimination against people based on how dark or light their skin tone, based on their hair texture, eye color, etc. in comparison to other people of their same race.  While other topics, including racism, are equally important, this contest is meant to provide a platform for specifically addressing colorism. The following links might be helpful in helping you determine if your essay or poem is the right fit for this contest:
  • Submit Essays of no more than 1250 words.
  • Submit Poems of no more than 1000 words.
  • You may submit 1-3 pieces.
  • We do not accept pieces that have already been published in print or online. (This does not include personal or private social media profiles or forums.)
  • You must be the original author of the essay or poem.
  • Family members of judges may enter the contest for publication, but will not qualify for cash prizes.
  • By submitting to the contest, you agree to have your writing published online and in print if it is selected.