Omari Hardwick Pens Poem For Trayvon
Shortly after the ICON MANN summer luncheon honoring Black men in entertainment concluded earlier this month in West Hollywood, the celebrities in attendance learned about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial: not guilty.
Actor Omari Hardwick of BET’s “Being Mary Jane,” felt compelled to pen a poem in honor of Trayvon Martin simply titled “Little Black Boy Wonder.” In this exclusive interview with JET, Hardwick talks about the poem, which has been made into a video featuring Marlon Wayans, Gary Dourdon, David Oyelowo and more; his reaction to the verdict and what you can do to make a difference.
JET: What was your reaction to the George Zimmerman verdict?
Omari Hardwick: I was literally on the phone with a producer. We were talking about a potential job when I called him and he was in the throes of watching that case. I was in my car on my home talking to him. By the time I walked in my home, my family was quietly watching it and I was still on the phone with him…like two men watching a baseball game together on the phone.
When they uttered the verdict nearly an hour later, we sat silently on the phone. I don’t remember how the conversation ended. I just know we hung up the phone. It’s almost like we were, in a kindred way, supposed to usher each other in the viewing of such a heavy verdict.
I quietly watched and dealt with it. My mind didn’t quickly go to anger. It went to urgency. The anger hasn’t hit me yet, but I do get angry when I see some of the comments like people calling a beautiful Black kid a “little n*gger boy” and saying “he got what he deserved.” That’s what makes me beyond angry. So I figured, I have a voice. I have a platform. I need to use it.
JET: So how did your poem “Little Black Boy Wonder” come about?
OH: Tamara Houston and Adrienne Alexander [ICON MANN founders] sent an email to everyone at the luncheon and it said we were on top of the world prior to this verdict, a group of African American men trying to support each other in Hollywood.
My response to Tamara was set up as a poem. I just simply responded in the form of a poem. Sometimes, being a poet, it just comes out. I could hear a higher power saying you have to do something with this. Maybe it was Trayvon’s spirit calling me.
I called the men at the luncheon and said we need to create this. Let their mouths speak a lot of the words … And we pulled it all together in two days. I’ve been blown away by the positive reaction to it and hopefully Trayvon Martin’s family feels the same.
JET: We’re working with EBONY to encourage change in communities with our #Anger2Action social media campaign. How do you recommend people turn their anger over the verdict into action?
OH: That’s a very good idea. the best thing for me, in terms of community outreach and what I do as a poet, is to extend the program I have in Miami called Blueapple into other cities, especially cities near where I’m from in Atlanta, New Orleans and Los Angeles and New York. We use poetry to teach kids that what they’re doing–whether they aspire to be the next Drake or Kendrick Lamar–is putting words on a page. That’s prose. That’s poetry. They’re putting anger on the page.
JET: We saw you on “Being Mary Jane,” what other projects are you working on?
OH: I’m in a movie called “Reach Me” with Kelsey Grammer and Sylvester Stallone. It’s a crazy, crazy cast and that’s coming out soon. “Being Mary Jane” is being buzzed about and we’ve shot the rest of the episodes, so people will see that in January. I’m very proud of BET for getting on a different train in terms of the different pedigree of shows. This is an original program and I’m very happy to be a part of that. It’s a great role for Gabby [Gabrielle Union] and she’s great to work with. Richard Roundtree plays her father and he’s been a mentor to me. It’s a great cast. Everyone is really talented.
Watch the video here and tell us what you think: