Qadira Miner, 16
Qadira Miner is a black, pansexual female poet from Birmingham, Alabama. She has been attending poetry readings since the womb; Miner’s mother was an avid host and performer at open mics. She is a sophomore in high school and an alumna of Woodlawn Writers Corp, a poetry program for elementary and middle schoolers. She attributes the successes in her writing journey to Octavia Butler. Miner organizes T.B.D. (To Be Determined), a youth poetry reading, to create a place for teens to express themselves about their uncertainties about their identity without the worry of judgment from parents or their peers from school.
Miner says that she feels her peers are still not comfortable enough or knowledgeable enough about their rights to know that they do need to fight for them. She says that everything can be challenged, just as everything is art, and everyone is an artist. Her process when writing poetry focuses on two questions: what is she trying to express? what does she want her audience to take from her piece? She wants her truths and struggles expressed in her writing to ring true with her audience. Miner says the most beautiful thing about writing is that it allows one to escape out of their reality and delve into someone else’s imagination.
Miner takes issue with the militancy and lack of respect she witnesses between people. And Miner is alarmed by the lack of curiosity about the unknown and unfamiliar. She says that this disconnect begins when we are younger, starting as early as childhood, where the lack of mutual respect can be present between child and parent, or student and teacher. Miner believes this can mold us into adults who fail to possess the skills and initiative to empathize with their fellow human.
Miner plans on taking her GED and enrolling in college courses early, which will allow her to devote herself to her art and writing full time.
by Qadira Miner
All we black folks do
Is go to church and barbecue.
Not realizing that we are the foundation
On which this country was built.
If you wanna hide something from a negro
Put it in a book.
Maybe it’s a habit we picked up from our grandparents.
Wasn’t it illegal to teach slaves how to read?
They tell us that we’re not destined for greatness
But my black skin has always been the elephant in the room.
They call my black ugly.
Say that I’m too dark.
But without the dark, light cannot exist.
And I let my light shine wherever I go.
I’m trying to take my journey one step at a time
But that’s hard to do
When your hands and feet are still shackled by stereotypes
These low expectations weighing us down.
But we can’t get complacent.
Slowly but surely, we are taking steps
Walking to better places.
And to those who dare say anything negative
To tear me down,
We’ll see what you say later
When i make it to the mountain top.
You talked the talk
While I walked the walk.
Only one of us made it to where we were going.
They said we wouldn’t make it anywhere.
And they will erase our steps
So our children can’t follow the trail.
But they will be trail blazers
And they will blaze
And they will blaze
And we will blaze.