Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman went from national sensation to suspicious. On Friday, the young Harvard graduate tweeted an experience that reminded her of the injustices that Black women face despite their accolades and accomplishments.
“A security guard tailed me on my walk home tonight,” Gorman shared on Twitter. “He demanded if I lived there because “you look suspicious.” I showed my keys & buzzed myself into my building. He left, no apology. This is the reality of black girls: One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat.”
Gorman followed up with another tweet sharing her analysis of the incident: “In a sense, he was right. I AM A THREAT: a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance. Anyone who speaks the truth and walks with hope is an obvious and fatal danger to the powers that be.”
Gorman’s Rise to the Spotlight as a Poet
Gorman has used the power of her words to speak out against injustices, oppression, and marginalization. In 2017, she became the nation’s first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. On January 20, 2021, Gorman made history as the youngest poet in recent history to speak at a presidential inauguration. She inspired millions when she recited her original poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
“Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished,” Gorman read during the inauguration. “We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one,”
Gorman was given the task of crafting a poem during a time when Americans were going through a pandemic and political division. While writing her poem, the world had become bombarded with news about pro-Trump rioters attacking the Capitol.
“In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years,” Gorman told The New York Times. “But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.”
Gorman’s Journey From Success to ‘Suspicious’
After stepping off the inauguration stage, Gorman was immediately thrust into the spotlight and given multiple opportunities. Morgan State University President offered Amanda Gorman a job as poet-in-residence via Twitter. Less than a week later, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Gorman signed a contract with IMG models.
Opportunities continue to follow Gorman. She landed on the cover of the TIME Black Renaissance issue in February and was interviewed by Michelle Obama.
On top of that, Gorman was invited to speak at the Superbowl. The NFL called on Gorman to acknowledge the work of three “honorary captains” before the big game.
Despite her growing list of accolades, Gorman was still racially profiled. The young activist reshared a tweet from February that continues to inspire her to be a voice for change for all Black girls.
“We live in a contradictory society that can celebrate a black girl poet & also pepper spray a 9 yr old,” Gorman wrote. “Yes see me, but also see all other black girls who’ve been made invisible. I can not, will not, rise alone.”