Black History Month: Staceyann Chin

In celebration of Black History Month, first year Sociology student Bailey Hackett has written a series of blog posts casting a spotlight on a number of queer, black figures and groups who been instrumental in advancing the cause of both black and LGBTQ+ rights. We’ll be publishing one every week during October. Follow Bailey’s queer history blog at A Little Gay Historia.

Staceyann Chin

BORN 25th December 1972

Evoking the very spirit of revolution and radical politics itself, Staceyann Chin is a Jamaican, Brooklyn-based spoken word poet with work centered on subjects such as oppression, identity and the need to be politically active. A self-proclaimed 'out poet and political activist', Chin’s career is both vibrant and striking - from performing in poetry cafes (most notably the Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe in Manhattan) to appearing in award-winning works such as ‘Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam’ where she performed one of her most famous pieces, ‘If Only Out of Vanity’,  as well as creating her own shows - including her one-woman show Motherstruck, nominated for a 2017 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New York Theater.

With deeply personal and political performances - Chin is a passionate activist campaigning for the rights of BAME and queer communities. She vocalises and highlights systemic racial violence through performances such as ‘Homophobia’ and ‘Racism’, while also discussing her life and experiences as a queer woman of colour. She has received multiple awards for causes and organisations she’s worked for, such as winning the 2016 Planned Parenthood Excellence in Media Award to being the winner of a 2009 New York State senate award. Chin’s memoir, ‘The Other Side of Paradise’ was released that same year. It chronicles her life and the movement from one home to another, from her birthplace of Jamaica to moving to the US, coming out as a lesbian and how poetry enabled her to explore her identity.

Chin says that she was also inspired by works by black feminist authors such as Jean Jordan and Audre Lorde; she says of those works; '...I started to read work that was maybe pushing me towards a more intersectional philosophy. I think if you form connections with people, if your life expands, then it is natural that the people who you are concerned about, the issues you’re concerned about, expand also…'

Currently, Chin is a Poet-In-Residence at the Culture Project, and continues to speak and perform on an international scale. Staceyann Chin is a poetic powerhouse and a one-of-a-kind performer that refuses to be classified! Watch her video here.

Check out our programme of Black History Month events at goldsmithssu.org/bhm.