“This is the reality of Black girls: One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat.”

By Alicia Brunker
Mar 06, 2021 @ 12:13 pm

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman just revealed that she was racially profiled by a security guard outside her apartment building.

On Friday evening, the 22-year-old recounted her experience on Twitter, writing: "A security guard tailed me on my walk home tonight. He demanded if I lived there because 'you look suspicious.'" She continued, "I showed my keys & buzzed myself into my building. He left, no apology."

Not shocked by his behavior, Gorman added, "This is the reality of Black girls: One day you're called an icon, the next day, a threat." She linked to a previous tweet she wrote on Feb. 14, in which she shared a Washington Post article that had a similar message. "We live in 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. I can not, will not, rise alone," Gorman wrote in response to a news story about a Rochester police officer who handcuffed and used pepper spray on a 9-year-old Black girl.

Following her tweet, Gorman revealed that she's chosen to look at her own situation through a different lens. "In a sense, he was right," the Harvard grad wrote on Instagram. "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. A threat and proud."

Last month, Gorman sat down with former First Lady Michelle Obama for a wide-ranging interview about poetry and activism, touching on the pressures Black women face while in the spotlight.

During their conversation, Obama asked Gorman about becoming "a symbol of hope" for other Black girls, and the poet replied: "For Black women, there's also the politics of respectability — despite our best attempts, we are criticized for never being put-together enough; but when we do, we're too showy. We're always walking this really tentative line of who we are and what the public sees us as. I'm handling it day by day. I'm learning that 'No' is a complete sentence. And I am reminding myself that this isn't a competition. It's me following the trajectory of the life I was meant to lead."