The Slatest

Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman Says Security Guard Confronted Her for Being “Suspicious”

Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Rob Carr/Getty Images

Amanda Gorman, who became a national figure after she delivered a stirring poem at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, said she was followed by a security guard who questioned whether she lived in her own building. Gorman, 22, wrote on Twitter that a security guard “tailed” her while she was walking home Friday night. “He demanded if I lived there because ‘you look suspicious.’ I showed my keys & buzzed myself into my building,” Gorman wrote. “He left, no apology. This is the reality of black girls: One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat.”

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Gorman wrote the Friday night tweet quoting another message she wrote in February linking to a Washington Post profile about her newly found stardom after the inauguration. “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.”

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In a subsequent tweet, Gorman said that “in a sense” the security guard was right. “I AM A THREAT: a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance,” she wrote. “Anyone who speaks the truth and walks with hope is an obvious and fatal danger to the powers that be.”

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Gorman, who is from Los Angeles, was named the first national youth poet laureate in 2017 while she was a student at Harvard University. Three years earlier, when she was just 16, Gorman was named the first youth poet laureate of Los Angeles. This year, Gorman became the youngest poet to speak at a presidential inauguration and she recited the poem “The Hill We Climb.” She was widely celebrated for the poem, which she recited mere days after rioters stormed the Capitol while lawmakers certified the results of the presidential election.

“Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished,” Gorman read in part of the poem. “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.” A month later, Gorman performed at the Super Bowl preshow.

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