“No one hears the howling of a black girl ghost in the nighttime,” said performance artist Porsha “O” Olayiwola in “Rekia Boyd,” a piece about Boyd’s death at the hands of a police officer. Olayiwola’s work focuses on the injustice of violence against black women and girls and how it is too often ignored. She will present an evening of her spoken-word poetry at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 9, in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, Klarman Hall. Her performance will be followed by an open mic.
“Too often cis and trans black women victims of police violence go unseen and unsung, giving rise to a false narrative that over-policing is a problem for cis black men only,” said Kathleen Long, professor of Romance studies and director of the Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program (FGSS) in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Porsha O calls out that false narrative and urges us to #SayHerName, a campaign launched by the African American Policy Forum to bring black women and girls’ experience with police brutality to the fore.”
Olayiwola’s visit to Cornell is sponsored by FGSS as part of the interdisciplinary Freedom Interrupted series at Cornell.
A native of Chicago, Olayiwola moved to Boston in 2010 to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA member for the National Coalition for the Homeless. During her year of service, she started the Massachusetts’ Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau. She is also a member of Boston’s HBGC Women’s Council, helping to address issues surrounding queer women of color in the Boston area. Olayiwola earned her B.A. in African-American studies and gender and women studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Olayiwola’s honors include winning the 2015 National Poetry Slam and the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam; she was also a finalist for the 2015 Rio II International Slam. She is the reigning Individual World Poetry Slam Champion.
Linda B. Glaser is a writer for the College of Arts and Sciences.