We are honored to share the next episode of our special new season of The What's Underneath Project, featuring slam poet Crystal Valentine.
“Growing up in the Bronx everyone looked like me, either Hispanic, Muslim, or black. I didn’t know that racism was something that happened,” explains Crystal in her episode. While everyday racism didn’t feel present, racist and misogynistic beauty standards ingrained by the larger culture weighed heavily on her. From perming her hair until it burned her scalp to starving herself to fit into the right jeans, the persistent and painful message she received growing up was that she should make herself someone other than who she was to fit in. When she started poetry workshops at the Boys and Girls club after school, the catharsis of putting words to her experience helped her cut through her shyness and channel her newly found colossal voice. A voice that became a much needed roar when she faced the reality of systemic racism at NYU, where she was often the only black person in her class and as she says, “I was expected to speak for my entire race.” The irrepressible force of Crystal’s poetry stops you in your tracks with a truth so powerful, it can’t be silenced.
This episode is part of a special new season of The What’s Underneath Project airing exclusively on Fullscreen, whose support brought them into existence. We’re releasing two transcendent episodes a week every Monday through October 10, and all eight episodes will be available for free when you sign for for the month-long free trial. We are grateful to Fullscreen for supporting us as independent filmmakers, and excited about the change that is possible when a new platform wants to expose their audience to content as authentic and thought-provoking as this. To watch the full episode sign up for your free trial.