It’s hard not to acknowledge the irony of a company firing its first transgender model of colour from a campaign launched to celebrate and support diversity. After Munroe Bergdorf’s Facebook post was picked up by mainstream newspapers, she was castigated and hit with streams of racist, transphobic and violent threats.
As the news of her firing became a global story and she was inundated with abuse on social media, Bergdorf says she found comfort in listening to Still I Rise: “I found solace in listening to Maya Angelou on YouTube. Her voice helped drown out a lot of the noise going on around me. I was inundated with constant transphobic, racist and violent threats. Still I Rise is a poem that I have always felt close to. But for the first time, I truly felt every single word that she was saying. This is exactly where I am at in my life right now. I hope that this recital finds someone else in need to Maya’s words, I hope it eases their pain like it did mine.”
Hopeful, defiant and proud, each verse exudes dignity in the face of adversity. There aren’t many people in the world right now who could do a better rendition and feel it more than this.
Watch Munroe Bergdorf read Still I Rise by Maya Angelou in a new Dazed film directed by Bec Evans and Laura Kirwan-Ashman.