Sonya Renee Taylor

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Sonya Renee Taylor
Sonya renee taylor 4162690.jpg
Notable worksThe Body Is Not An Apology

Sonya Renee Taylor is an author, poet, spoken word artist, speaker, humanitarian and social justice activist, educator, and founder of The Body is Not An Apology movement. Taylor has won multiple National and International poetry slams, including the 2004 U.S. National Individual Poetry Slam competition, the 2005 DC/Baltimore Grand Slam competition, the 2007 Ill List III Slam competition, the 2006 Four Continents International Slam competition and has performed for audiences across the US, New Zealand, Australia, England, Scotland, Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands, including in prisons, mental health treatment facilities, homeless shelters, universities, festivals and public schools across the globe.[1] She is an African-American woman who identifies as queer.[2]

Spoken word as hip hop[edit]

While hip hop is traditionally thought of in terms of music, graffiti, break dancing, and deejaying it also includes other creative forms like film, spoken word, autobiographies, literature and journalism.[3] Hip hop began as a creative way to express complicated emotions surrounding the experience of being marginalized and oppressed, and as a source of activism. The notions of claiming space for the self and one's community and expressing your agency through having a voice and opinions are central themes in the creation of hip hop. Hip hop has roots in African traditions and art, incorporating rhythms and storytelling, using a combination of the human voice and instruments. Spoken word specifically is a "deeply rooted tradition that has manifested itself in a stream of poets that have served as clarifiers of the 'ultimate realities' that Black people face."[4]

In her work, Taylor sets out telling a story that makes the reader or listener wonder and question about the meaning of the work, challenging their understanding of the themes or topics they just took in.[2] She has written articles about the intersections of race and gender on the topic of body positivity,critiquing the current ideas society has around the movement, making it more inclusive and claiming space for those who have been noticeably left out of the conversation.

"Our society tells us fatness is not beautiful. Blackness is not beautiful. So even while reclaiming size diversity as beautiful, the presence of Blackness complicates the narrative...It is this unwillingness to wade through the murky waters of race that make Black and Brown women invisible even in the places where we say we are trying to make people seen."[5]

The Body Is Not An Apology Movement[edit]

This movement is about fostering "global, radical, unapologetic self love which translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable and compassionate world".[6] It strives to reduce violence against people who have been marginalized and had violence perpetuated against them, including

"...racist violence including lynching, slavery, holocausts, and internment camps...LGBTQIA people being assaulted, murdered and driven to suicide regularly...rape and sexual assault...the bombing of abortion clinics and the murder of physicians supporting women’s rights to autonomy over their own bodies...involuntary sterilization of people with disabilities...debilitating shame that people around the world live with as a result of the psychological attacks our social and media machines wage against us, ending in bulimia and anorexia, addiction, stigma, racism, homophobia, ableism, sizeism, ageism, transphobia, mass self-hatred, and senseless violence as a result of body hatred."[7]

The movement has also come out with the RUHCUS Project (Radically Unapologetic Healing Challenge 4 Us), an exercise that takes place over 30 days aimed at helping people in their goal of body empowerment.[8] The medium that their movement uses to get their message out is Facebook, Tumblr, and their website [1]. These sites are all very accessible to a wide audience, including those with vision impairments. All of their posts include captions describing the picture so someone using narration technology would still be able to get a similar experience to other people using the sites. Their posts are also about a large variety of subjects, with topics like weight/size, disability, sexuality, gender, mental health, race, aging, rad parents, men, global, intersections, and "H", a section that stands for "handle that", a more radically inclusive version of the phrase "man up."


In 2010 Taylor released her first book, A Little Truth on Your Shirt, a collection of her poetry that has been described as challenging, asking the reader hard questions.[2][9] She was included in several different anthologies, including Elephant Engine High Dive Revival, Junkyard Ghost Revival Anthology, Just Like a Girl: A Manifesta, Spoken Word Revolution Redux, Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces. She was also featured in various journals and magazines including Domain Magazine, Reality Magazine, Off Our Backs, The City Morgue, and X Magazine. She's made appearances on networks like MTV, BET, TVOne, Oxygen Network, CNN, PBS, and NPR as well as on HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

In 2018, Taylor published The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love.

In 2021, Taylor edited The Routledge International Handbook of Fat Studies, alongside Cat Pausé.


  1. ^ Taylor, Sonya Renee. "About The Artist". Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Tolbert, TC. "TC Tolbert Interviews Sonya Renee". Persephone Speaks. Kore Press. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  3. ^ Pough, Gwendolyn; Richardson, Elaine; Durham, Aisha; Raimist, Rachel (2007). Home Girls Make Some Noise. California: Parker Publishing. p. vi.
  4. ^ Gladney, Marvin J. "The Black Arts Movement and Hip-Hop". African American Review. 29 (2): 298–299.
  5. ^ Taylor, Sonya Renee. "Weighting to Be Seen: Race, Invisibility, and Body Positivity". The Militant Baker. Retrieved 16 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Mission, Vision, and History". Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  7. ^ "What is Body Terrorism?". Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  8. ^ Harby, Liz. "Sonya Renee Taylor". What Works Studio. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  9. ^ "The Poet's Eye". On The Issues Magazine. Merle Hoffman. Retrieved 5 March 2015.