VALENCIA CLEMENT

Valencia Clement is a first-generation Haitian-American scholar and poet from Queens, NY.

 

Being the first child in her family born in America, there was a lot of pressure for her to achieve the American dream, which only troubled her more trying to figure out what it meant for her future: was it securing a good job? Building a family? Insuring a wealthy lifestyle?

Her parents, however, did not leave her imagination running, for they taught her extreme dedication the the threes L's: " Legliz, Lekol, Lakay" (Church, School, Home).

As instructed, Valencia effectively focused on those three pillars: she thoroughly involved herself in her church's youth ministry, excelled in school and spent her free time home, where she wrote stories and poems that would immortalize her. 

 

At the age of 17, the three L's became more contentious to her: falling in love with her best friend led her to explore the intersections of her sexual, religious and also ethnic identities.

By the end of her high school career, she was awarded a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University, and moved to Tennessee to begin her studies.

Her move to the South, and the increased media coverage around police brutality added a new dimension to her writing. While she previously explored ethnicity, it was clear race was a more salient issue in the southern U.S. Therefore, over the last six years, her work also explored racism in the academy, issues of diversity and inclusion, as well as social movements such as Black Lives Matter.

Her art journey has been a pursuit of truth, representation and immortality.

After spending years in school reading what “critical scholars” thought about blacks, Haitian migrants, lesbians, women, Christians, - I knew that I had to reclaim my truth, and share that perspective with the world. I hope my work and story empowers other people to express their collective stories through creative expression.”