Amanda Gorman Says She Was Racially Profiled by a Security Guard: 'This Is the Reality of Black Girls'
Amanda Gorman — the 22-year-old poet who made waves with her powerful reading of "The Hill We Climb" during President Joe Biden's inauguration — is opening up about a recent experience with racial profiling, calling it "the reality" of Black girls.
Gorman recounted the incident on Friday evening, tweeting, "A security guard tailed me on my walk home tonight. He demanded if I lived there because 'you look suspicious.' "
"I showed my keys & buzzed myself into my building," she continued. "He left, no apology."
"This is the reality of black girls: One day you're called an icon, the next day, a threat," the Harvard University graduate added.
However, Gorman said she's chosen to look at the situation differently, writing, "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," she wrote.
Alongside the Twitter thread, Gorman also linked to a tweet she had written in February, in which she praised a Washington Post piece for highlighting "a contradictory society that can celebrate a black girl poet & also pepper spray a 9 yr old."
"Yes see me, but also see all other black girls who've been made invisible," she wrote at the time. "I can not, will not, rise alone."
In the article, Salamishah Tillet — an author, professor and contributing critic at large for The New York Times — said that Black girls and women in the United States have not been treated with the same reverence as Gorman.
"People are just so blown away by her performance and the way in which she was able to capture the complexity of the American story on that huge platform," Tillet said, noting that on the other hand, "we have a 9-year-old black girl being pepper-sprayed in Rochester, New York, by police officers."
"And so, there's a way in which the celebration of Amanda Gorman, from many people in America, it doesn't translate into the recognition or the seeing or the acknowledging of everyday Black girls. They're like completely different universes," Tillet said.
Since her reading at the inauguration, Gorman has signed to IMG Models and performed a reading at the Super Bowl. Her three forthcoming books have even hit the top of Amazon's chart before their release.
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In this PEOPLE issue spotlighting Women Changing the World, Gorman — who was born with a speech impediment and diagnosed as a child with auditory processing disorder— reflected on her childhood struggles.
"I spent a lifetime thinking about the power of language, and what it feels like when that power is withheld from you," she said.
"There are memories in my mind in which I recognize that my voice was being othered — being asked from a young age, 'Where are you from?' and, 'You talk funny,' " Gorman continued. "People were so incessant on trying to pin down why I was different from them.".
Gorman added that she's never wanted to be anything but a poet.
"But for so long, it's been the sole arena of dead white men. Now, because social media can be used for good and bad, it's entering a new era of accessibility," she said.