Rhymes, Amanda Gorman, and Poetry as an Outlet–Q&A with Sumaya Hussein


The first stanza of Hussein’s poem. Read the full poem below.

Maneeya Leung

Freshman Sumaya Hussein, a first-week winner of Black Student Union’s Black History Month art contest, dives deeper into what her poem means to her. Responses have been edited for clarity.

What do you like about poetry?

I feel like it’s just easier to do because there are not as many rules when it comes to writing. If you have to write an essay, you have to follow a format. For poetry, you can do anything. For me, I just say anything goes as long as it rhymes.

Do you have any poets that inspire you?

Amanda Gorman. We’re reading some of her work in English class, and I was so shocked that the teacher was showing her work because normally I haven’t really seen her and they mostly show poems from the olden days. So it was interesting to see a modern person.

What was your reaction when you won?

When it started, I was like, okay, not a lot of people know about the competition. So I was gonna enter it because I felt like I had more of a winning chance. When we won, I was so shocked. Like, I was smiling at my kitchen table and I was just like, how is this happening?

What does this poem mean to you?

For me, the poem was really inspired about what Blackness means to me and how it is to my identity, and how I view it. So I was really expressing that through this competition. I’m really glad the competition was there for people really because it helped me come to terms with my identity as being Black, especially with what happened in the summer. 

One of my favorite lines is near the end: “the near future resides within you.” Tell me more about that and how you decided to choose this message as a closing.

I chose the closing line because like all Black history, it is true what has happened, but that doesn’t mean that we can continue allowing people to be treated wrongly. With the new generation, people are becoming more open-minded and actually sticking up for others which is really nice. So what I meant by that line is that it literally starts in the younger generation–they are the ones who can change their mindset and improve things. So I just wanted to add a little inspiring thought to that line.

View other winners of the month here.

Read the full poem below:


of history stain the ground,

overflowing with sound,

of our ancestors’ footsteps,

hitting the ground.


They continuously pound,

pound these ideals onto our kin,

once again and again,

all because of the mere color of our skin.


Does my blackness alarm you?

Does it somehow harm you?

How is it that the color of my face,

increases my chances of getting maced?


This month,

holds the history that others find too “tough,” to remember,

the history that lives on even after our freedom come.


Physically free but forever in shackles,

body untainted but mind tarnished,

programmed to burst into this world,

with all of society’s ideals harnessed.


Well here’s a reminder

of the history that continues on longer.

of the hate that seems to just be getting stronger. And

of the youth who’s souls seem to wander.


Black history indeed holds true,

however the near future resides within you, you, who

will live to see tomorrow’s new, you, who will be able

to rewrite it if you try to. yes, you.