"There is no greater burden than carrying an untold story."
My name is Valencia Clement. I am a first generation Haitian American scholar and poet from Queens, NY. As the first child in my family born in America, there was a lot of pressure for me to achieve the American dream. I had a lot of trouble figuring out what that meant for my future: Did it mean making a lot of money, securing a good job, having a family? Of course, my parents had no trouble letting me know what it meant for my childhood, it meant extreme dedication to the three L’s: Legliz (Church), Lekol (school) and Lakay (home).
I spent the entirety of my childhood focused on these three pillars. I excelled in school, I was active in the youth ministry at my church and I spent my free time at home writing my story into poems so I could live forever. However, when I was 17 years old, the three L’s became a much more contentious part of my life. I began to explore the intersections of my ethnic, sexual, intellectual and religious identities. By the end of my high school career, I was awarded a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University and moved to Tennessee to begin my studies.
My move to the south for school, in addition to the increased media coverage around police brutality added a new dimension to my writing. While I previously explored ethnicity, it was clear race was a more salient issue in the Southern U.S. Therefore, over the last six years, my work has also explored racism in the academy, issues of diversity and inclusion and social movements like Black Lives Matter.
Most recently, my work has drawn me into public scholarship, digital humanities and womanist theology. I've delved into the works of Audre Lorde, Alice Walker and Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni and found a home for myself where my art could grow.
Ultimately, my creative journey has been a pursuit of truth, embodiment, representation and immortality. After spending years in school reading what “critical scholars” thought about Blacks, Haitian migrants, Queer folks, Women, Christians and Scholars - I knew that I had to reclaim my truth and share my perspective with the world. I hope my work and story empowers other people to express their collective histories through creative expression.