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Amanda Gorman: ‘One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat’

America’s National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, has tweeted about “the reality of Black girls” after allegedly being followed by a security guard.


Jennifer McShane
07th Mar 2021
Amanda Gorman: ‘One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat’

The young poet has been rightfully lauded for her exceptional talent and accomplishments thus far; she is the youngest inaugural poet in memory, and frequently makes the news cycle in the US. In 2014, she was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and three years later she became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has appeared on MTV, written a tribute to Black athletes for Nike, published her first book, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough when she was just a teenager. She has a two-book deal with Viking Children’s Books. The first work, the picture book Change Sings, is due for release later this year.

Having only just won acclaim for her performance at Joe Biden’s inauguration with the rousing and wise ‘The Hill We Climb‘ (published with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey), she has been called the Voice of a Generation – and one we need in 2021 – so the fact that she has now told of being followed home and accosted by a security guard who allegedly claimed she looked suspicious, is deeply disturbing; an indication that we all still have a long way to go before our words match our actions.

She said the incident, on Friday night, was emblematic of “the reality of black girls” in the US, in which, “one day you’re called an icon” but the next day considered a threat.

“A security guard tailed me on my walk home tonight,” she wrote. “He demanded if I lived there because ‘you look suspicious.’ I showed my keys and 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.”

Her tweets were shared in the thousands and she soon thanked everyone for their support, ultimately ending on a positive, that the good will always outweigh the bad:

“I am so thankful for the outpouring of support since the incident last night. It won’t change the truth of what happened, and continues to happen to Black Americans, but it reassures me of what I already know: There is always far more good in this world than bad,” she wrote.

But we know so much more needs to be done to incite action and change; her incident is as we know, not a lone one, it frequently happens.

Last summer, British Vogue editor Edward Enninful told of how he was racially profiled after being told to “use the loading bay” by a security guard as he entered his place of work – he has held the position since 2017 and among his vast array of accomplishments, he was appointed an OBE in 2016 for services to diversity in the fashion industry.

In a social media post, he said Conde Nast, which owns British Vogue, “moved quickly” to dismiss the security guard.

But he said, “change needs to happen now”.

“It just goes to show that sometimes it doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved in the course of your life: the first thing that some people will judge you on is the colour of your skin.”