black liberation organiser and poet king speaks her mind

We hung out at home in LA with political organiser and verse-maker KiNG — watch the vid.

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23 June 2017, 10:40am

poet KiNG at home in LA

"I grew up really privileged and so I had access to a really great education," says 23-year-old KiNG from her home in South Los Angeles, that she shares with her husband Alonzo. "It wasn't until I came home from NYU and realised I didn't want to be a doctor, that I wanted to make art — my parents were like, 'well, you gotta leave', and so I got to see a different side of LA when I was living in poverty." Now KiNG is based in an area that she was always told to avoid while growing up, and says the reputation is unnecessary, it's not the dangerous place it's made out to be.

KiNG's poetry is boldly political, her words deftly picking apart racial and sexist oppression, but she believes in direct action to push for social change — "A poem only goes so far," she says. After two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, were shot dead by US police within a day of each other last year, the poet felt moved become an organiser with Black Lives Matter and the Black Star Liberation Party. Before that KiNG had often felt out of place, being naturally inclined to challenge the cultural status quo made it harder to have friends. "It made me feel really down and not want to speak on the things that I believe in," says KiNG. "Nayyirah Waheed has a quote that's pretty similar to what I'm about to say, which is: 'the thing that you are most afraid to speak on and write about, do that, that's the most important thing."

Watch KiNG talk about the impact of cultural appropriation, the responsibility of an artist, and of course, speak her commanding poetry. 

KiNG was recently diagnosed with leukaemia. While she continues her activist work she is also facing a tough battle to get well again, and fighting cancer is expensive. We've included a link to her fundraising page for those who might wish to donate to her care.

Editor's note: This article was updated on 23 June. 

Credits


Text Clementine de Pressigny
Film Regina Lemaire-Costa
Main image taken from the film