ACCLAIMED WRITER AND POET; AWARD-WINNING EDUCATOR
Clint Smith is a writer, teacher, and doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University with a concentration in Culture, Institutions, and Society. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship with research interests that include mass incarceration, the sociology of race, and the history of U.S. inequality. Previously, he taught high school English in Prince George’s County, Maryland where, in 2013, he was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council.
He has spoken at the 2015 TED Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, the U.S. Department of Education, the IB Conference of the Americas, the Aspen Summit on Inequality and Opportunity. He has been profiled in The Washington Post, NPR's Here & Now, Vox, The Huffington Post, The Root, NBC News, and The Boston Globe. His two TED Talks, The Danger of Silence and How to Raise a Black Son in America, collectively have been viewed more than 5 million times.
Clint is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and a 2017 recipient of the Jerome J. Shestack Prize from the American Poetry Review. He is also a Cave Canem Fellow, a Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop Fellow, and has served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Guardian, Boston Review, the Harvard Educational Review and elsewhere. His first full-length collection of poetry, Counting Descent, was published by Write Bloody Publishing in 2016. It won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award, and was selected as the 2017 'One Book One New Orleans' book selection.
Clint earned a BA in English from Davidson College and is an alumnus of the New Orleans Public School System.
TEACHING CRITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND DEVELOPING EMPATHY
Using his personal experiences and time in the classroom as an educator, Clint raises the questions on whether we are silent bystanders or active citizens in this talk. Through examples of his poetry and using historical written examples, including James Baldwin's "A Talk to Teachers," Clint shares stories of justice, community, and education, helping audiences understand that both classrooms and communities are not off limits from the affects of the rest of the world. It is necessary for us to wrestle with those questions in order to more properly serve the young people impacted by historical and contemporary trauma.
THE DANGERS OF SILENCE
As a researcher and poet, Clint's work lies at the intersection of art and social science, creating a unique lens through which to think about American social stratification. Clint discusses the ideas of silence and empathy—both on a macro and micro level context. What are the historical silences that have shaped the landscape of our country and often go unacknowledged? What are the interpersonal silences that we perpetuate with our complicity? In what ways is our empathy towards people often contingent on the identity of those individuals? In this talk, Clint helps organizations understand and address how internal and external stakeholders are deeply affected by the sociopolitical phenomena that they experience every day in this age of political and social tumult. Clint shares personal stories to illuminate how we as individuals and organizations can all recognize the power of our voice.
Based on his debut poetry collection, Clint's coming of age story seeks to complicate our conception of lineage and tradition. He explores the cognitive dissonance that results from belonging to a community that unapologetically celebrates black humanity while living in a world that often renders blackness a caricature of fear. His poems move fluidly across personal and political histories, all the while reflecting on the social construction of our lived experiences. Clint brings the reader on a powerful journey forcing us to reflect on all that we learn growing up, and all that we seek to unlearn moving forward.