Kevin Powell at The Seattle Public Library. 
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Kevin Powell at The Seattle Public Library.
Credit: Courtesy of Naomi Ishisaka

A Black Man's Search For Community In Oh-So-White Seattle

Seattle Poet Nikitta Oliver – who moved from a mostly black community in Indianapolis 12 years ago – said Seattle was a culture shock.

“I had dealt with white supremacy before, but never like this – never in a covert way where people could use the same progressive language I could use and at the same time make me feel like I didn’t belong here,” Oliver told an audience at Seattle Public Library’s main branch downtown.

She was part of a guest panel that followed a talk by author/activist/entrepreneur Kevin Powell.

The event addressed being black in Seattle – issues of diversity, racism, gentrification, classism, gender and sexual identity, economic injustice and the failures of the education system.


Powell said he did not have a positive male role model until he was 18.

“We should not take for granted, gentlemen, how important it is – particularly if these kids don’t have fathers – that you actually represent a father figure, just by the fact that you are a grown person,” he said.

The panel also included C. Davida Ingram, youth poet laureate Leija Farr, Tre’ Maxie, Tarik Abdullah and Gyasi Ross.

The Seattle Public Library hosted this community event on Dec. 12. Thanks to Amy Twito and SPL for our recording.


Please be advised this program contains mature language.

Web Exclusive: Listen to the full event and panel discussion:

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