The Black Coalition Against COVID-19 (BCC), announces three poetry slam competitions to encourage spoken word poets to use their skill and creativity to help save lives during this pandemic. The competitions will be virtual presentations simulcast on WPFW-FM radio, WE ACT Radio, and on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
“Slam COVID-19” will offer $3,000 in prizes for the best spoken word entries in three categories: Elementary & Middle School to be held on May 18, 4-6 p.m.; High School to be held on May 22, 4-6 p.m.; and Adult to be held on May 25, 7-9 p.m. All guidelines and entry information for the competitions can be found at http://www.blackcoalitionagainstCOVID.org.
“Slam COVID-19” will be hosted by live DJs and well-known guest judges with final results determined by a combination of public voting and the judges’ decisions. Sponsored by BCC, comprised of D.C. community-based leadership and residents, in collaboration with WPFW-FM radio, the Washington Teachers’ Union and WE Act Radio, the purpose of the slam is to reach a broad audience with the life-saving information and activities needed to stop the spread of COVID.
While COVID-19 has in one way or another affected all of the District of Columbia, 80% of the deaths have been in the African American community. This pandemic has exposed the health and wealth disparities that have long persisted unabated in the nation’s capital.
“In this time of crisis, our community must come together in a city-wide effort to do all we can to save our lives and that of our family, friends and neighbors,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D. and former commissioner of Public Health for the District of Columbia.
“Our poets and creative artists have their fingers on the pulse of our communities and they are often the most influential of the messengers who reflect and set the narratives for public conversation. I am so proud of these artists for accepting the call to fight for the survival of our communities and especially, the most vulnerable of our people.”
Commenting on the urgent need, Elizabeth Davis, Washington Teachers’ Union President, said, “COVID 19 has magnified inequities that have existed for decades in our city and schools. Black youth, who are often unheard, unseen and unassisted have witnessed these inequities and learned to distrust the systems that sustain them.” She added, “They are not surprised that in DC and most cities, the highest percentage of people who have died from COVID 19 are Black people. If we want to authentically engage them in confronting these inequities and dismantling systems of racism, then we must see, hear and assist them in becoming the game changers.”
“Slam COVID-19” also provides an important opportunity for highlighting the importance of the African American community to prepare itself to make use of the contact tracing initiative. This initiative will be essential to protecting the community from further disease spread once the city returns to more normalized working and social interaction. Kymone Freeman of We Act Radio agreed, and added, “As artists, we understand the natural distrust that many in our community have for government interventions into our lives. However, we also understand that if we are to save our lives, and those of the communities we so dearly love, this is the time for all of us to come together. We are proud to add our voices to this effort.”