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Seattle Arts & Lectures names Bitaniya Giday as the next Youth Poet Laureate

Parker Miles Blohm
Bitaniya Giday, 17, has been selected as the 2020-2021 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate.

Bitaniya Giday, 17, is the new Seattle Youth Poet Laureate for 2020-21, Seattle Arts & Lectures has announced.

The young poet activist already is familiar to KNKX listeners after recently sharing her thoughts about police brutality and racism for our youth voices project, Take the Mic.

Bitaniya, who attends Newport High School in Bellevue, said she’s honored to receive this recognition for her poetry and hopes to use her platform to advance the cause of racial justice.

“Right now I’m doing a lot of thinking about what it means to be a Black woman occupying the space as the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate – what it means as an artist to bring healing to the community but also to represent liberation, to represent resistance,” she said.

Bitaniya immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia when she was about four years old. She explores themes of womanhood and Blackness in her writing and has also used her poetry to draw attention to police killings such as that of Charleena Lyles in 2017.

She shared her poem, “No Lives Matter,” with KNKX.

No Lives Matter :


After Kofi dadzie 


it makes sense 

if we can protest over dead black boys 

you should be able to protest your right to kill them 


call it a middle ground


because we know the feeling of being used by this country 

then tossed  aside, like a confederacy flag 


your right 


southern soil is trenched with your peoples blood 

you feel this extinction coming too

blues die at the same rate as blacks to the same hands 


so how about we call it instead  no lives matter 


and  when  Charleena Lyles dead 

Body drifts unto  the shores 

of Seattle again


every white women in exchange  birthes 

an empty uterus

carved out by bullet holes 


the news forgot to say her name

so their memories follow  suit

every breaking coverage 

split evenly,


because we are all equally unequal now


each of them receive a eulogy that reads

the same


call it,  participation trophy 


Seattle says this body 

 is arched with the same 

privilege as theirs


so this time I pull their hair 

say their skin reminds me 

of rotten mayonnaise 


spit back cracker before their tongues role a hard r 

And this time they will believe me 



and when todd(s) lies before lamplights

rib caged on the street corners calling out to 

his mother

the same way tarek died


we will call it white on white crime 

step across his body after 

branding  him gang affiliated 

as prosecutors force a plea


to us this will be music 


can you hear it 


you want to participate so bad

in a culture 

cornrows’d and codeswitch’d

to the bump of 21 savage song

talks the ghetto talk

as clocks tick tock

a life away


but the  blood of martyrs run deep


so we will hunt you a Trayvon 

gun down a Sterling 

gift you a Fernando 


And we will await for which 

One of you will sacrifice 

Your body to the movement 


will see which loose vernacular 

mouths will 

hashtag a protest


build you your 

new youth  jails

quota bodies

till it's filled to the brims

with tainted futures

the same way ours are 


it's easy right



like each fiber of muscle 

in your body is not slicked with 

this privilege to walk


pushed against  conformity  


so when we both are tired

of the rage 

And lay our bodies on the 

Street corners 


Gasping “I can’t breathe.”


our souls will stay marching 

for the boys we can not leave behind


but y’all will wake up and realize

not a single milky body is laid out  

still not  a single street sign is named after the dead 


you will realize you march to the sound of your own 

feet berating the ground


and there ignorance blooms

before a liberation could grow

before porcelain resistances crack open to reveal 




In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.