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2018 Youth Poet Laureate

William Lohier

Voting in a Black Hole

Question: If a black hole opened up just below SoHo, but it was a reverse-racist black hole that only swallowed up white people, would we be better off for it?
Question: Did you know there are already black holes in New York? Except these aren’t on some reverse-racist bullshit, they’re called Brownsville, Jamaica, East New York, The Bronx. You can think of our city as a carnivore.
1965 Malcolm X is shot in Washington Heights
2006 Sean Bell is shot in Queens
2014 Eric Garner is choked to death in Staten Island
And yet. On Tuesday, only one in five people voted.
Question. How many of you voted. Because our city grows arms at night. Because yesterday, I saw hands knocking at my window trying to snatch my brother away, Because yesterday, eyes opened up on my wall, looked at me like I was dinner.
There are black holes in our city.
And what is a vote to a black hole.
And the Senate both in the same year
But when have New Yorkers ever backed down from a challenge
When have black men and women ever been tamed. Vote.
Because our voices can break the laws of physics,
Because our songs can outweigh the gravity of any black hole.
Because our votes can look this city in the eye and tame it.
And say, you have looked at me as prey, but I am a carnivore. And I refuse to be swallowed today.

William Lohier is a 16-year old native of Brooklyn and a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School, where he holds leadership positions in the Black Students League and the debate team. He is a new member of Urban Word NYC's Youth Board.

"I am so grateful, not only for this title, but for the platform it provides. It is beyond exciting to help give voice to New York’s youth and to explore the change we can effect at the intersection of art and civic engagement," said William Lohier.