Amanda Gorman is an incredible woman. She brought me to tears with her poem, aptly named “The Hill We Climb“, at the Presidential inauguration. Alongside her poignant words and performance, she brought hope to a number of Americans who may have otherwise felt it was hiding under a bed or behind a closet door.
Gormans’ breathtaking words spoke to me because it showed an artist standing upon a precipice in our nation’s Capital, while we sat at the edge of our seats hanging on every syllable that fell out of her mouth. Not only that, but to show a vibrant Black woman standing in a spotlight for us all to see was chicken soup for my soul. While Amanda spoke, 33.8 million people listened.
On Sunday, February 7th, our nation’s first ever Youth Poet Laureate will have another opportunity to speak before a TV audience. And if last season’s viewership was any indication, it could mean speaking to upwards of three times as many as watched the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Super Bowl LIV saw themselves 100,000 or so viewers away from hitting the 100 million mark.
To commission a poet to construct a work of art and present it before the country’s most popular sporting event is, in short, hugely important.
I think back to middle school, when I was a mediocre athlete at best who wanted to be an actor, but was entirely too shy to do it. That it was a big decision to make, choosing either sports or the arts. But why choose? It’s not actually necessary.
Amanda Gorman performing a piece, commissioned by the NFL, at the Super Bowl shows the country the importance of the arts. You cannot hang on her every word then cut a creative writing class. You cannot be moved by her speech then pull funding from a theater program to further bolster the football team. Nor can you scoff at someone who spends their time dreaming up new worlds instead of running wind sprints.
I feel like I can’t properly articulate my excitement at this news. As a site, we have a large number of us who work in the arts in some way, and fiercely love our teams and will defend them with spirited debate before screaming at them when they miss a shot. Gorman performing at the Super Bowl is our perfect intersection.
Sure, I’m excited to see if Tom Brady can continue to make history and win his 7th Super Bowl in his 10th visit to the big game. But I’m also giddy about watching a young, Black woman, brimming with hope, stand in front of the country to lead us into whatever comes next.
When the day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.
- / 1 year ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.