JUNIOR SCHOLARS PROGRAM
By Any Means Necessary
The Schomburg Center
The Junior Scholar Poets began the year with The Autobiography of Malcolm X and his words powerfully resonated with the scholars. Each year, the spoken word group spends an immense amount of time building relationships through games, presentations and conversations. Scholars are prompted to explore topics that are uncomfortable and we challenge one another to share deeply and authentically. Often this process can be validating, painful and cathartic. Spoken Word requires that we delve into introspection, reflection, observation, and self-expression.
Unbeknownst to us, CoVid 19 was making its way to the United States and would devastate New York City. While the pandemic undoubtedly altered our plans to convene and develop skill in-person as performance poets, it also provoked strong emotions that poured onto our now-virtual pages. So, we went there -- exploring the isolation, the panic, and the loss. We thought about social distancing and its varied enforcement based on race and zip code. We attempted to adjust to the confines of our homes and get reacquainted with our families. Then… we witnessed the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and the video of a white woman threatening Christian Cooper in Central Park after he’d asked her to leash her dog. Then Breonna Taylor. Then Tony McDade. Then George Floyd. We no longer had a neatly wrapped project that we were writing and revising. We were sinking and our sessions were buckets with which we feverishly fetched and dumped the water that continued to fill our ark. We survived. Now, in video and written form, you can hear and see our reactions to the catastrophes of 2020.
- Subha Ahmed, Spoken Word Instructor