Refusing to Be Erased
(Note: Every Tuesday I write a piece for what I call “Tuesday Meditations” and send them out to those who want to receive them. In light of the brilliant performance of poet Amanda Gorman today at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, I thought I would share this meditation on my blog because it was an interview of Gorman I heard a couple of days ago that inspired this meditation. I hope you enjoy it.)
Poet Amanda Gorman, national youth poet laureate who will read one of her poems at the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, remembers that Thomas Jefferson wrote in Notes on the State of Virginia that black people could not be poets. Miffed that Phillis Wheatley, a Black woman, was earning high praise for her poems, Jefferson expanded his beliefs about the capabilities of Black people, writing,”Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry. Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar oestrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion, indeed, has produced a Phillis Wheatley [sic]; but it could not produce a poet” (p. 44).
Gorman’s description of how Jefferson tried to erase Wheatley as both a poet and a woman, hit a nerve. Is that what Black people and other oppressed people have been fighting? Their being erased as human beings, first, and secondly as human beings with worth, talent, and gifts?
Continue reading at Candid Observations.