TIME

Choosing Justice

THE HOTEL BALLROOM IS PACKED WHEN THE SPOKEN-WORD POET Staceyann Chin takes the stage on a Saturday morning in late October. At least 1,100 mostly women and nonbinary people of color have filled the vast space in the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta in anticipation of her performance and of Stacey Abrams’ keynote address, which will come next.

Chin’s first poem is a polemic against President Donald Trump, which elicits yells of support along with sharp laughs and applause. But the second performance, called “Tsunami Rising,” is when the audience explodes. In a monologue describing how black women have been brutalized, beaten down and discarded since before the founding of America, Chin expresses both the rage she feels at being ignored and the adoration she has for her fellow women of color. “If you are itching to light a f-cking bonfire in the house of the white patriarchy, come stand with black women,” she says.

Many in the room are on now on their feet, tears streaming down their cheeks. When Abrams, who lost the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018 but has since launched voting-rights and census-participation campaigns, steps up to the podium, she urges attendees to turn their pain into action. “My campaign began with the notion that you could center communities of color and you could speak to the marginalized and the disadvantaged,” she says. “More importantly, you could hand them the microphone.”

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