Crystal Valentine’s Poetry Rips Through Systemic Racism And Weaves Wounds Into Self Love


[StyleLikeU] So does
the stripping down part make your more nervous
than the talking part? [Crystal] Oh, yeah, definitely. [StyleLikeU] Why do you think? [Crystal] I’m a poet. My job is to talk. It’s just that I’ve always had I guess
body issues as well. So it’s just showing off everything is a bit nerve-wracking for me. I come from a family of eaters. We’re from the South, so food is big part of us loving each other. It brings the family together. So even as a kid my mom never, said anything about my weight. The only thing she would say
is that like, I’m too thin. She’ll be like, “You need to eat more. I’m worried about you.” I was thinking, okay so maybe if I did lose all this weight then
I wouldn’t be bullied, then people would like me,
then I would get a boyfriend. (laughs) And like I would fit in with the kids and I wouldn’t feel so sad. I’m at a point in my
life where I’m trying to not perpetuate fat-phobia. So even saying things like, “Oh, I feel fat.” You know I know that that’s like perpetuating that kind of language. So I always try to reframe my sentences and reframe my thought process and unlearn those things. [StyleLikeU] Can you talk
about what your style says about you? Including your hair. – Yeah, my hair is a big part of me. Growing up, I went to a
predominantly Hispanic school. So everyone had, like,
hair down to their back. Just, like, flowing and
curly and beautiful. But, you know, I’m black. So I had – I would perm my hair so my hair would go no longer than probably right here. So I mean, just imagine
constantly having to straighten your kink and me, I would have really bad scabs in my hair ’cause the perm would burn it. I would be so sad because I’m like, “I’m never gonna be
beautiful like these girls.” There’s a reason why people
still perm their hair after it burns, after it
breaks off, after it– you know, there’s a reason why we do it and it’s because it’s
ingrained in us that’s not– that it’s not cute, that it’s not pretty, that it’s not acceptable, that it’s not professional
in the work place. And then I reached the point
where I was like, “No.” And then it came into me
stepping into my own power, into my own blackness, into
my own black femininity. This is crochet braids
right now. I’m natural. I was in Texas for a poetry competition. I was having a great time with my friend, we were at a bar and
then this, the waitress– the waitress (laughs) she was like, “Oh my God, I love your hair. Is it real?” And she kinda reached for it, and I was like, “Don’t touch me”. And like she got so offended. She got so offended
that I was so offended. And I’m just like,
“You’re not trying to…” Like, I’m not a dog! You do that to someone’s dog. You be like, “Oh my God,
this is so cute. Puppy!” and you start petting it. If you saw like a normal person, like, honestly, if you
saw like a white person you would never be like, “Oh my God, I love your hair.
Let me just pat you down.” That would never happen. Honestly, I feel like people
don’t see us as real people. It’s, like, something to be touched or something to be looked at or something to be put in a glass box and examined. Like, I’m a queer black woman, this whole world tries to silence me. [StyleLikeU] At the
time were you aware of– that you were interested in women? Or… where were you in that? – I feel like I became aware
I was interested in women when I was, like, 15. But I was like, “I can
be interested in them, but that’s it. What am I
gonna do? Date a girl? No! That’s ridiculous! That’s ludicrous!” Like how do I explain this people? I mean when I got into high school, people showed more interest in me and I would just take anyone. I never really dated any man that I liked. It’s kind of like, “Oh,
they thought I was cute” so, “Okay, he thinks I’m cute so, I guess I should do things with him.” It with him that I had my
first sexual encounters. Not actual sex or intercourse, but you know just sexual encounters that made me just
completely uncomfortable. It was just really uncomfortable but I was like I don’t know
how to tell this man “no.” I don’t know– ’cause I don’t want him to get mad at me or yell at me. There was this one girl and she was openly gay and she was like, “Yeah, I like girls. So what?” And I saw the way that the girls in my school treated her. She wasn’t beautiful the
way that they thought people should be beautiful. The way that they thought
women should be beautiful, and she was like, “I don’t care. I think I’m gorgeous.” And I mean, I will always
admire that about her. ‘Cause, like, honestly
at the end of the day, like a hundred people
could call you beautiful but if you yourself don’t
think you’re beautiful it doesn’t mean anything. Like she was doing activism before I knew what activism even was. To be in a classroom
with people who hate you, you know, which you could
parallel that to being in a world filled with people
who hate you for being black, for being a woman, for being
queer, for loving yourself, for not caring about what
their opinions, right? And to say that, “I don’t care. I still love myself…”
That is so empowering and that itself is activism. And I thought she was crazy! I was like, “How? She is insane.” Like, she’s not gonna
break down or anything? Honestly, saying no to your oppressor is a form of activism in itself. And whether it be like– Obviously the girls
weren’t her oppressors, it was, you know, white supremacy and beauty standards and all
these systematic oppressions working in these young girls. And to say no to all of that
being so sure of herself, I was like, “Wow”. [StyleLikeU] Can you keep going into when you did start to find your own voice? – So I went to this program called The Boys and Girls Club. It was an after school program and my brother and my sister went there. I took poetry workshops. I didn’t start going on the mic until maybe 11th grade ’cause
I was just so scared. I was like, “I could never do it”, “I don’t have poems like them”, “I’m not smart the way they are”. So in slam culture, when you hear something you that you
like, you snap your fingers or you say “Mmm”. So I would do my poem and people would start snapping and I would be like, “Oh
my God, they like it!” So it just made me feel like
people wanted to listen to me, which I never felt like before. Being onstage, I would shake so bad. It was like my body was vibrating, I was so nervous. I felt like I was gonna faint. ‘Cause I went to this
organization called Urban Word where I was surrounded by
a lot of conscious people. People who talked about racism, who talked about systematic oppression, who taught me it was okay to talk about the fact that men
cat-called me in the street, the fact that people called
me a nigger in the streets and it’s okay to talk about that. [StyleLikeU] And that’s
happened to you in New York? – Yeah, like a homeless man one time. In 2014, it was right after I
made the Urban Word slam team. I was walking from my dorm and this homeless man was like, “You nigger” and I’m just like, it’s just interesting how words that that this man, who has lost things, still thinks he’s superior to me because I am a nigger. And this is not to this is not to bash
homeless people at all. But it’s like– [StyleLikeU] It’s a systematic oppression. – It’s a systematic oppression. “It doesn’t matter ’cause
at the end of the day, I’m white and you’re
just another black person who I can oppress.” ‘Cause I never– I went to a predominantly black school. I didn’t know– I knew racism was something that happened but I always thought that it
happened and then it stopped. Like there’s no more. Growing up in the Bronx
everyone looked like me or was either you know, Hispanic or you know, Muslim, or you know, black. Like I didn’t see any white people. I didn’t have any — I didn’t feel the oppression. But when I went to NYU, which is a predominantly white school, I was like “What is going on?” I would be the only person in– the only black person in my classes. And I’ll be expected to
speak for my entire race and I was like, “This is crazy!” [StyleLikeU] When do you
feel the most vulnerable? – When I’m with a partn– When I’m with somebody. Like, romantically. ‘Cause, I don’t know, I’ve been– I mean, I’ve only been
in two relationships. The one I had last year and the one that I’m in now and — I’m just so insecure and it’s like I just make things up. And it’s just like sometimes
I just feel crazy, you know. ‘Cause I’ve just been
hurt so much, you know? I’m just like, “are you
gonna hurt me?” Or like– I mean, my mom knows now that– She understands now
that this is depression, this is what it is. But I remember first trying to talk to her about it and she was like, “What are you talking about? We’re black. We don’t deal with that kind of stuff.” Like, “Man up.” And the news reporter says, “Jesus is white”. She says it with a smile on her face. Like it’s the most obvious
thing in the world. So sure of herself, of her privilege, her ability to change history, rewrite bodies to make them look like her. She says it the same way politicians say racism no longer exists. The same way police officers
call dead black boys thugs. The same way white gentrifiers
call Brooklyn home. She says it with an American accent, her voice doing that American thing, crawling out of her throat, reaching to clasp onto something that does not belong to her and I laugh to myself. What makes a Black man a Black man? Is it a white woman’s confirmation? Is it her head nod? Is it the way she’s allowed to go on national television and
autocorrect the Bible and God Himself? Tell Him who his Son really was? What makes a Black man a Black man? Is it the way reporters retell
their deaths like fairytales? The way their skulls
split across pavements? The way they cannot outrun a bullet? How can she say Jesus was a white man when he died the blackest way possible? With his hands up, With his mother watching, crying at his feet. Her tears nothing more than gossip for the news reporters
or prophets to document. With his body left to sour in the sun, this human stripped from his black, remember that? How the whole world was
saved by a black man. By a man so loved by
God, he called him kin, called him black, now ain’t that suspicious? Ain’t that newsworthy? Ain’t that something
worth being killed over? [StyleLikeU] Wow. – Thank you. (snapping) Thank you. Thank you. – Thank you so much for watching our video and for being such an incredible
supporter of StyleLikeU. – We’re Elisa and Lily, a mother and daughter on a mission to inspire acceptance by
revealing what’s underneath personal style. – Through radically
honest docu-style videos, we are leading the fashion
and beauty industries towards self-love,
diversity and inclusion. – Join our movement by
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68 thoughts on “Crystal Valentine’s Poetry Rips Through Systemic Racism And Weaves Wounds Into Self Love

  1. Her Hands and Nails and lips and face and everything so beautiful 😍😍😍😍💙💙💙💙

  2. The world admires the African woman. The world admires us so much that they fear us.

  3. I’ve never wanted to meet, hug, and know someone so badly. You inspire me to keep going, thanks babe ♥️

  4. I'm totally awed. This woman, she's…just ethereally beautiful, and she's still been made to look at her own body in disgust. I just want to show her what I see, a goddess, a womanly power with a mind as sharp as a scalpel and more power than any man would tremble to gain even a taste of. I'm actually crying after hearing her poem. Thank you so much for this.

  5. 3:03 my sister has like perfect ringlet hair and people constantly touch it(she's white btw),Do I think touching peoples hair without your permission is ok? Of course not, but it's not a race thing…. if you have unique looking hair theres always gonna be people out there without a sense of personal space who will get their sweaty nasty hands all over your hair. It doesnt matter what your race is.

  6. oh SHUT UP!!
    JUST BE….!
    AND LET OTHERS BE!!!!
    IT IS NOT FUCKING 'BLACK LIVES MATTER!' …- IT IS: ' ALL LIVES MATTER!'…
    STOP WINING …AND MOVE ON WITH RESPECT FOR ALL LIVE!

  7. Sooo… Jesus wasn't black or white (although who is just black or white) he was Arabic. What a fucking pity party. She sounds pretty privileged to me? Not white privilege, that's something I have (not being sarcastic btw, fully aware of that), but economically, educationally she's got it. That homeless man lashed out with words; which by definition can only harm you in any real way if coming from power and influence. She is immature enough to let those vile words hurt her from a man in a far lower position of privilege than her. He has no power at all. Also coming from someone who is bald due to a medical condition, get over the hair thing. When I had hair, people wanted to touch it all the time because I had wringlets. Since when did oversensitivity become a virtue and perpetual victim status become honorable. We all have shit to deal with, mine happens to be medical, hers race, homeless man money and power. Stop competing in the victim Olympics and be kind to each human individually the best way you know how. Keep learning how to do this better without compromising truth. Do not hold opinions so firmly that logic and facts can no longer change your mind.

  8. She's so beautiful! It's absurd that our society can make someone of her intellect and beauty feel insecure. She's a star

  9. I loved this more than words could ever explain. The beauty and power in her words sent shockwaves through me. If you are reading this, you are absolutely beautiful!! I'm not just referring to your image, but to your soul!! The very core of you. I may have never experienced any of your story first hand, but through your words…….. I saw it all unfold before my eyes. So strong, so powerful…. Thank you 🙂

  10. I’m white. I have curly hair. Everyone that sees my hair goes “ omg that’s so cute can I touch it “. It’s not something against black people. It’s not something about dogs. Sure you’ve got your own personal space but don’t imagine stuff

  11. Snap Snap Snap Snap Snap Snap Snap** This Feels Like Gospel Every Time I Reread The Words She Says, Thank You Thank You Again <3

  12. This was a lovely interview and Crystal's poem moved me to tears.

  13. I disagree when she said why black people perm their hair. Perm mine because Its easier to detangle and I won't snatch myself bald headed. Doesn't have anything to do with "professionalism or insecurities

  14. At 2:30 she reminded me of that game HAIR NAH 😀
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aphpJi5jKrM
    The only time during the entire presentation I had a smile though . . . wow she's really sumthin'

  15. Unpopular opinion here. But this seems more like an insecure girl telling her story. I feel like its an insecure girl who never really understood that there will always be people who dislile you for no reason, regardless of color, race, job, money, beauty, health, everything.
    I feel like this is an insecure girl who never really got over it. I feel like she eventually found her bubble where she could say that shes a victim and people would agree with her, prolly cuz all the other people in her bubble are also “victims”. Correct me if im wrong.

  16. I touch white peoples hair and I have touched Black peoples hair, and its an affectionate gesture, meant to include not exclude. I really do not believe most white people think of Black people as a thing to look at or put in a box. A lot of people just want to be nice to others. I feel sorry for the waitress, that was her trying to interact. And now what will happen when she sees another beautiful black woman is nothing, she won't say anything and will probably not engage. If anything this kind of defensiveness is perpetuating racism, not white girls complimenting someones hair. I think a lot needs to change, on both sides. But that can't be ignored. We all have a role to play and pushing others away and trying to shame them and make them feel bad will not change anything for the better. Shame in any form is poison.

  17. i don't get why they have to take off their glasses in these videos. i mean it's a thing that helps you see lol

  18. im half hispanic and half white and have dreads, people always ask to touch my hair and I love it! que soothing 😉 I feel like it's all personal preference!

  19. What a crown of hair…
    And you know what: When I'm out in public and I see a dog I want to pet, I always, ALWAAAYS ask permission FIRST. Why don't people ask before putting their hands on us?!

  20. Snap, snap, snap … Ummmm. Goddess– you are a force of nature! Such talent and beauty.

  21. I  really want to hug and kiss her and show kindness that she needs she's really amazing

  22. I Just want to say a big thank you to the amazing creators of this series. When I first stumbled upon this channel, I mostly watched the interviews with the young, white, models because I felt like their experiences with being told to be silent and pretty, and body pressures to be thin were similar to common struggles in my life and I appreciated their perspective and guidance. However, as I've watched more of these diverse women, I come to moments where my understanding of others can expand and feel connections with people the world might say I don't have anything in common with. I like listening to the experiences of these women regardless if they look similar to me or not and I don't click on them because of the job description. This is really great work and a wonderful platform for these fabulous women! I hope I run into Crystal at NYU!

  23. I get so sad when I hear about peoples preconceptions of beauty. Thank you for being strong and visible. Thank you for posting this.

  24. Exactly I feel the same way as people wanting to touch my hair or my earrings I design..DON'T PUT YOUR NASTY HANDS ON ME OR MY THINGS…people are nasty, don't wash their hands and I am not a pet.

  25. I LOVE Crystal Valentine!!! She exudes such beauty, strength and power. The kind that reminds me to push myself for love understanding, and grateness. #BlessupQueen

  26. i'm crying so hard at the beauty! that poem shook me up … stunning and impacful! wow wow wow

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