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Panelist Profile: Rajnii Eddins

Panelist Profile: Rajnii Eddins

Shedding Light & Sharing Hope

Over the past year and a half, the global pandemic has fundamentally reshaped relationships between business, society, and government. Widespread calls for systemic change go hand in hand with a shift toward more socially conscious consumerism. For spoken word artist Rajnii Eddins, that means poetry has become an even more powerful tool for shedding light on what’s hidden in the shadows.

Eddins has been performing poetry and engaging diverse audiences for more than 20 years. In fact, his mother is the founder of the first Black writers group in the Northwest, known as the African American Writers Alliance. Eddins was their youngest member, performing with them at the age of 11.

Although a Seattle native, he’s now a proud resident of Vermont — as well as a facilitator, activist, teaching artist, author, and founder of the Poetry Experience at Fletcher Free Library — among other things.

His latest work, Their Names Are Mine, aims to confront white supremacy while emphasizing the need to affirm our mutual humanity.

In a 2019 interview with Vermont Public Radio, Eddins shared, “I started seeing the value of art being a powerful method to not only have some catharsis and mental hygiene for myself, but also so I could have a tool that could then be a practical expression, touch other people's hearts and minds.”

This core belief — in artistic expression as a vehicle for positive change, for both artists themselves and society at large — remains a guiding force in Eddins’ work with different communities, and he hopes to continue sharing this belief with others, young and old.

“Just being able to choose what I do, where I put my energy, to be able to speak candidly when I do experience race and racism, and have that actually be my work — as a healing force, as a catalyst for positive change, and holding space for youth to respect their own minds — so I’m super thankful for this chapter of my life and excited to share with Vermont, this region, the nation, and the world," Eddins said.

Rajnii Eddins will be a panelist at the upcoming Artist Changemaker Workshop on November 13 and 14.