On the first day of this new year, eighteen year-old Ramya Ramana delivered a poem dedicated to the new mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio. De Blasio’s campaign platform addressed the glaringly obvious inequalities of the city and promoted a vision of a more just, fair city in which progressive ideas are actualized in bureaucracy (His rally cry of “looking forward” is reminiscent of Obama’s “hope” campaign, relying much on votes from citizens with faith that structural changes can occur). But this post is not about him, or even politics that may (or may not) change the power structures in the city of New York.
It is about a young woman’s bravery to use her voice against inequality through romanticizing New York’s spatial ability to bring together people of common class struggles — drawing on imagery from working-class realities, single mothers, brown skin, believers in God — all dedicated to a sense of place, an allegiance to community.
She is also well-known for her poem that responds to racist backlash of this year’s non-white Miss America and for other distinguished poems in the spoken word community. Currently on full academic scholarship to St. John’s University in Queens for her poems, Ramya’s achievements are impressive to say the least.
You rule, Ramya! Congrats on being New York City’s newest Youth Poet Laureate.