Poet Marquesha Babers performed her piece “That Girl” to open the 2015 Women in the World Summit on Wednesday night at New York City’s Lincoln Center.
Babers wrote the self-deprecating poem when she was a young teenager, and has since overcome some tough obstacles, giving “that girl” a whole a new meaning.
People always see me as that girl. That fat girl, just a little too black girl, always sitting in the back girl. That girl.
Homeless in California from the time she was 8 years old until she was 17, Babers found her lifesaver the same year her family found a home. In a separate conversation with actress and activist Mamie Gummer, Babers recounted the day her life changed when a poetry program called Get Lit Players came to her high school. Initially the opportunity to write and recite poetry was only open to the boys, but Babers’ English teacher saw power in her writing and asked her to open the Get Lit show, paving the way for the school’s girls the next year.
From that open mic night on, she knew she wanted to be a poet. Today, she has added restaurateur to that dream. With multi-cultural cuisine and performances, Kiki’s Soul Palace will be her brainchild.
Still young, Babers remains very close to the hardship she endured. She can’t remember the night she went to the Get Lit open mic without welling up. She almost didn’t go. Her hair wasn’t done, she felt self-conscious, and she was not ready to leave the house—until her mother intervened.
“My mom said, ‘No, you’re going to the open mic, get dressed now.’”
That girl did, and soon, “That Girl” was born.