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Poets Respond to Race


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Malaprops hosted “Poets Respond to Race,” an event featuring two South Carolinian poets, on Friday. Al Black and Len Lawson took turns reading poems that expressed different scenarios and points of view of racism.

“We met at his open-mic venue,” Lawson said. “He approached me about doing poems about race based on the Travon Martin case, Eric Garner case and then, of course, the Charleston Nine shooting.”

Black and Lawson teamed up to tour different cities throughout the southeastern United States, reading poems and leading discussions on the topic of racism.

Both Black and Lawson said they experienced how racism manifests itself in all lives, despite the fact that they come from different walks of life and generations. Black didn’t hesitate to check his white privilege and Lawson didn’t hesitate to express his anguish in a “colorblind system.”

An in-depth discussion followed up Black and Lawson’s readings. The audience brought up many different personal stories and questions about the poets’ own experiences.

“Whatever you do—and I’m talking to everyone here—you can impact the world you live in in a positive manner,” Black said.

More on the “Poets Respond to Race” series and Al Black and Len Lawson can be found on poetsrespondtorace.weebly.com.