On Friday, Sept. 30, The Lighthouse held an event titled “Standing Together in a Culture of Fear” to discuss creating a positive change in a culture of fear.
The guest speaker for the event was Clint Smith, a writer, teacher and Ph.D. candidate from Harvard University.
“I’m going to be sort of like a non-traditional talk. Keynote: I’m a poet so that is my disposition, my orientation. That is the lens through which I see the world and often how I sort of articulate the way I understand the world,” Smith said at the start of the talk.
Smith held true to his opening statement. His talk was in part a performance in which he shared his poetry. The key focus of many of his poems revolved around the issue of race and how racism has shaped not only his life but also the world around him.
Selections from Smith’s newly published book of poetry, “Counting Descent,” were also included in his performance.
Smith urges his audience to consider the exceptionalism that is embedded into American thinking, to question the norms that have divided races since the birth of the nation and to actively participate in closing the divide. In doing these things, we stand together against the culture of fear created by hatred, violence and discrimination.
Smith mixes his poetry in with educating discussions about the history of black people in America. He said that so much of his poetry aims to capture the violence that black people are perpetually exposed to while also capturing the joy and wonderful things that represent the culture in spite of everything.
“I really think that sometimes people do not fully reckon with the full history of oppression of black people in this country,” Smith said.
Smith’s closing poem emphasized the importance of voice and the danger of silence.
“We spend so much time listening to the things people are saying that we rarely pay attention to the things they don’t. Silence is the residue of fear,” Smith wrote in one of his poems.
(Photo: Miranda Fein | Marlin Chronicle)