Social justice is often fought for through art, and one poet, educator, and activist has written her own way towards advocating for the truth.
Mahogany Browne performed poetry at the Huxley Theatre in the New York State Museum on Thursday, and spoke with attendees about what her role as a poet, writer, activist, and educator has meant for her and the communities she serves.
The event was defined as a celebration and an opportunity to reflect on the importance “of how social change is achieved both in the past and present,” according to Cassie Andrusz- Ho Ching, a NYS Writers Institute graduate assistant and PhD candidate, and Browne has been a pivotal performer within the poetry community while educating those outside of the affected communities as well.
“I understand that if I do not tell my story, someone else will and they will do it incorrectly,” said Browne. “The value is knowing that my truth and my experience will not be shaped to fit an agenda of someone else.”
When Browne is teaching, there is no censorship. This is to encourage her students to express their truths while also standing by their words.
For a high school class assignment, Browne rewrote Dante’s Inferno and mixed it with lyrics from the band N.W.A. The teacher for her course returned her assignment dissatisfied and told Browne she would fail the assignment if she did not rewrite it. It was at this moment the PBS NewsHour-featured poet set poetry aside and turned to journalism.
“That one moment of someone telling me that even my creative thought into critical thinking was invalid was enough for me to say ‘I don’t want to do this’,” said Browne.
When Browne became a journalist, she did so with the intention of telling the truth.