Amanda Gorman Exists at Your School Too

As we revel in the young poet’s rising future, don’t forget there are other Black girls across the world who deserve to be uplifted

Ralinda Watts
ZORA
Published in
4 min readFeb 8, 2021

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Black girl reading in front of her classmates at school.
Photo: Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet laureate, astounded America at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, delivering powerful words from her original work “The Hill We Climb.” Adorned in her natural braids and colorful headband, she stood confidently, reciting words of optimism, hope, and inspiration for a better America, a country for which we could all be co-creators.

Now a household name, Gorman also performed her awe-inspiring poetry at the Super Bowl earlier this month, a first for the NFL, an organization that continues to struggle with how it handles issues of racism and injustice. Most notably, the NFL is responsible for keeping Colin Kaepernick, who sparked the conversation of racial injustice into our national discourse, out of a pro quarterback job. The NFL’s gesturing of performative activism was on full display that day, including a performance of the Black national anthem, ironically, a song about Black freedom and liberation, two notable realities still absent from the league.

As the well-deserved adoration of Gorman continues, there is no mistaking her magic and light. She is soaring to new heights under the white gaze of what they perceive is Black exceptionalism. The truth of the matter is that there is an Amanda Gorman at every school in America: A young, Black girl who is curious, creative, and bursting with art that heals the soul. But her school community has neglected, dismissed, and devalued her potential to rise.

This must change.

Historically within schools, Black girls are overlooked and made to feel invisible. The systemic inequities that Black girls face are nothing new, but they are being amplified by new research and data. For example, Black girls are three to four times more likely to be suspended than their White counterparts.

One can also see this criminalization of young Black girls in headlines, most recently when a nine-year-old Black girl was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed. This increased policing of Black girls can be attributed to the adultification of Black girls — thinking that…

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Ralinda Watts
ZORA
Writer for

Author+Diversity Expert +Consultant+Creative +Podcaster at the intersection of Race, Identity, Culture, & Justice. Let’s be in conversation. #RalindaSpeaks