People simply must pick a lane: poetry is either impenetrable and outdated, or it’s a dangerous gateway drug to reverse racism. Florida, you cannot have it both ways!
Politico reports today that an elementary school in the Miami-Dade area (renowned for services to democracy) received a single complaint that Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb,” which you might remember from such inaugurations as Joe Biden 2021, contained “hate messages.” FWIW the complaint also blamed Oprah for authoring the poem.
The natural response: the school acted to limit access to the poem.
Gorman roasted the attempt to ban her poem and other literature on Twitter, calling on people to support Pen America’s work to counter censorship:
So they ban my book from young readers, confuse me with @oprah , fail to specify what parts of my poetry they object to, refuse to read any reviews, and offer no alternatives…Unnecessary #bookbans like these are on the rise, and we must fight back 👊🏿 DONATE here:… pic.twitter.com/p96dlnrSp4
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) May 23, 2023
The poem itself is plainly inclusive, and even seems to anticipate the mental blocks ailing the citizen who confused a then-22-year-old poet with 69-year-old Oprah Winfrey, woman of many cars. Here’s some of “The Hill We Climb”:
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. (emphasis mine, ffs)
FLORIDA, ARE YOU OKAY?
I’ve kept a rough tally of things the sunshine state is afraid of:
the word “gay”
and things Florida thinks are fine:
parrot shirts and Crocs that come with a bottle opener
Are you a Floridian? How is the vibe down there right now? I’d love if you could let me know in the comments. <3
Editor’s note: The original headline was updated to specify the “restriction” on Gorman’s poem, and allow deep semiotic discussion around what constitutes a “ban” for people in fifth grade and below.