Hollywood, S.C. teen wins prestigious national scholarship for his writing on race and identity

From the Post & Courier:

He’s only 17 but Malachi Jones has joined an exclusive club of legendary writers such as Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King as a winner of the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. 

A senior at Charleston County School of the Arts, Jones competed against a record-breaking 346,000 entrants this year to become one of 16 high school seniors chosen by the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers to receive the award program’s highest honor, the Gold Medal Portfolio.

Only one other student from South Carolina received the honor, Vicky Brown of Greenville. 

The award comes with a $10,000 scholarship and a trip to Carnegie Hall this summer for the ceremony. Capote, Plath, Oates and King were all childhood Scholastic Art & Writing Award winners before embarking on their illustrious literary careers. 

Jones’ award-winning work — a collection of lyric essays and free-verse poems — revolves around his experience as a black teenager struggling with and finally coming to terms with his identity. 

In a poem titled “Pantoum for my Mother,” Jones writes, “Stripped of my blackness, / uprooted by judgement. / I was never dark enough for you / or for the ones who called me whitewashed.”

It’s about the questions and judgment he endures from both his white and black peers for not fitting the stereotypical “formula of a black male.” 

Click here to read more about Malachi’s award from the Post & Courier.

The Portfolio Awards, made possible by generous individual donors and other supporters, provide 16 Gold Medal Portfolio recipients with $10,000 scholarships and 30 Silver Medal with Distinction Portfolio recipients with $1,000 scholarships.

Learn more about the Portfolio Awards by clicking here.