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"We Will No Longer Stay Silent to This Classism": NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ramya Ramana

StoryJanuary 02, 2014
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Ramya Ramana

New York City’s youth poet laureate.

At Wednesday’s inauguration for Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City’s 2014 Youth Poet Laureate Ramya Ramana read a poem titled "New York City," dedicated to Bill de Blasio. Ramana is a youth activist and a first-year student at St. John’s University.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: During the inauguration ceremony, New York City’s 2014 Youth Poet Laureate Ramya Ramana read a poem titled "New York City" and dedicated to Bill de Blasio. Ramana is a youth activist and a first-year student at St. John’s University.

RAMYA RAMANA: A constellated skyscraper moving gracefully to jazz beat, finding the Gil Scott-Heron in all her footwork, gripping the streetlights like an eclipse of hymnals, this is home. The lost voices, the heart’s devotion to beat and pulse, slow-dancing colonels, home to hustle, home to work hard, dream harder, home to move in silence, let success shatter the glass of hostage echoes New York City—not lights, not Broadway, not Times Square. It is single mother donating her last meal’s worth of money to church. It is the faith in that heart that makes a dead dream worth resurrecting. It is coffee-colored children playing hopscotch on what is left of a sidewalk. It is chalk-outlined, colonized map on a street as dark as the bones of the dead. This we call holy. This we call tough skin, thick-boned. This is New York.

We will no longer stay silent to this classism. No more brownstones and brown skin playing tug-of-war with a pregnant air hovering over them like an aura of lost children. No more colored boy robbed of their innocence. This city always will be the foundation of this country. We are root. We are backbone. We brown, we black, we yellow, we white, we young, we collage of creatures stomping to be reminded of the mammal inside of us. We chance, we deserve, us opportunity, us new mayor, us new beginning, like dancing cocoons, us hope, us fight, us happen, us love, us some good human, us happy, we happy, we happy with change. It is a constant baptism to remind us of our holy. We welcome, we family, we congratulate Mayor Bill de Blasio. We are so very honored and pleased to have you. And the congregation says:

CROWD: Amen!

RAMYA RAMANA: Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: New York City’s 2014 Youth Poet Laureate Ramya Ramana reading her poem titled "New York City," dedicated to the new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. When we come back, a national broadcast exclusive: the return of civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart, jailed for four years. She was released, determined by a judge for compassionate release. We’ll be back in a minute.

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