Skip to Content

Gorman at the inauguration of Joe Biden in 2021. Wikipedia. CC BY 2.0. Melanie McDonagh argued in The Spectator that the poem itself was hard to understand and poorly written.
Barcelona

Wrong skin colour: Second white translator kicked out by Biden’s poet laureate

Once again, a translator of the poem that the black American writer Amanda Gorman recited at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden has been relieved of his duties. The Catalan writer Victor Obiols said he was pulled from the job because he had the wrong racial "profile".

Published: March 13, 2021, 10:33 am

    Read more

    “I was told that I was not suitable for the translation,” said the 60-year-old, who has translated works by William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde into Catalan, among others. “They did not question my qualifications, they were looking for someone with a different profile, a young activist, ideally black.” He had received the original assignment three weeks ago and had finished it, the AFP news agency reported. The Barcelona-based publisher informed him of the decision only after he had delivered the translation.

    Too white: Catalan writer Victor Obiols. Wikipedia

    Obiols does not yet know whether the rejection of his person came from the publisher or from Gorman’s agents. “But if I can’t translate a poet because she’s a woman, young, black, an American of the 21st century, then I can’t translate Homer either, because I’m not a Greek from the eighth century BC. Or I can’t translate Shakespeare because I’m not a 16th century Englishman.”

    The Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld had previously resigned from the task of translating Gorman. She had backed down after criticism from social media that only a black interpreter could translate the work, but not a white woman.

    Dutch publisher Meulenhoff had called Rijneveld a “dream candidate”, while Gorman had selected Rijneveld herself despite the fact that Rijneveld had admitted that she spoke “very bad English”. Rijneveld identifies as “non-binary” and uses the pronouns they/them. In a statement the publisher told the BBC: “Meulenhoff asked MLR if they wanted to be the translator. They said yes, and then Meulenhoff sent their profile to the American agent as their preferred choice.”

    But the Dutch black author Janice Deul dismissed the choice in a vitriolic rant in the Volkskrant newspaper in which the journalist and diversity campaigner said someone who was “unapologetically black” should be given the task. Janice Deul told the BBC that the Black Lives Matter movement had changed everything.

    Although Amanda Gorman had initially agreed to the white poet translating her work, Dutch black oral poets were not presented to her as options she complained. Rijneveld withdrew publicly after Deul’s rant. She published a response in the form of a feeble subservient poem called Everything inhabitable, also translated into English – notably not by her. Written in Dutch, it was translated into English by Michele Hutchison. But it is clear from the poem that she withdrew because of Gorman, not the publishers or agents.

    […]Never lost that resistance and yet able to grasp when it isn’t your place,

    when you must kneel for a poem because another person can make it more inhabitable;

    not out of unwillingness, not out of dismay, but because you know there is so much inequality, people still discriminated against[…]

     

    In March 2021, Gorman complained – without irony – that she was allegedly racially profiled by a security guard near her home, because he had asked her if she lived there. She tweeted afterwards, “He left, no apology. This is the reality of black girls: One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat.” She later tweeted, “In a sense, he was right. I am a threat: a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance. Anyone who speaks the truth and walks with hope is an obvious and fatal danger to the powers that be. A threat and proud.”

    The 23-year old Gorman recited the poem The Hill We Climb at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden in January. She was the youngest poet ever to appear at the inauguration of a US president. In her lecture, the black writer also addressed, among other things, her descent from slaves.

    According to Wikipedia, Gorman’s work centres on oppression and marginalization, but Gorman attended private schools and Harvard, was the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate, published a book of poetry at age 17, and opened the literary season for the Library of Congress in 2017 – rather suggesting a life of great privilege.

    In 1993, Bill Clinton had called on Maya Angelou, but Miller Williams, a white male, had to stand in for his second term. Barack Obama called on the “black poet” Elizabeth Alexander for his first inaugural, while relying on the gay Hispanic immigrant, Richard Blanco for his second.

    Consider donating to support our work

    Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Americas

    Alberta PM suspends cooperation with WEF

    EdmontonThe newly elected Premier Danielle Smith of the province of Alberta in Canada has recently made several powerful statements against the globalist foundation World Economic Forum and its leader Klaus Schwab. She has also decided to cancel a strange consulting agreement that WEF had with the state.

    AIPAC cheers US midterm results

    WashingtonThe American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) expressed satisfaction with the US midterm election outcome. Republican voters, on the other hand, deplored their party's weak performance.

    ‘The US is ruining all economies’

    BogotaFor decades, Colombia was one of the US's most important allies and the only NATO partner country in Latin America. But in South America, too, the political tide is turning. In June, the country received its first left-wing president, Gustavo Petro.

    US sanctions Chinese chip industry

    WashingtonWith new US sanctions against China, which came into force on October 12, the Biden administration delivered a serious blow against the Asian giant. Any cooperation with Chinese chip and memory manufacturers and in particular the export of semiconductors to China is now prohibited.

    Musk fires top 3 leftist Twitter chiefs

    It was an event which shook the social media world on Thursday. Elon Musk has now – after a protracted back-and-forth – taken over the short news service Twitter, the world's second largest social network after Facebook.

    The precipitous fall of the Facebook empire

    Menlo ParkOutpaced by the competition, targeted by the antitrust authorities, sanctioned for its privacy violations, the former Silicon Valley star no longer inspires confidence. Not for its users. Nor its customers. Nor the stock market. Will it succeed in reinventing itself?

    Arms race in the deep: ‘Seabed Warfare’

    An article published in issue 148 (July-August 2022) of the German military journal Deutschen Militärzeitschrift (DMZ), examined underwater warfare in the 21st century and its importance for geopolitical and security policy. Due to the current developments surrounding the acts of sabotage on the Baltic Sea pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2, this article has gained unexpected prominence.

    Biden speaks to the dead

    WashingtonAn embarrassing performance by US President Joe Biden: he made a peculiar mistake at a conference, which again raised doubts about his mental fitness. Can he be trusted to make sane decisions in case of a likely nuclear conflict?

    Pro-immigration Democrat governors horrified by migrants in their midst

    Martha's VineyardThe Republican governor of Florida, Ron De Santis, has had enough. The southern border of the US has been overrun by illegal immigrants since US President Joe Biden took office. De Santis summarily had two migrant groups – mainly from Venezuela – flown out to the luxury island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

    The crisis facing the US expressed in 3 numbers

    WashingtonInflation continues to rise, while Wall Street stocks and investment firm Blackrock plummet.

    Go to archive