By Elise Schoening
Stitched on the shirt of one performer were the words “Black Lives Matter” in bold lettering. Another shirt read, “Danger: educated black woman.”
Welcome to the Black Monologues.
Students and faculty gathered on Thursday, Feb. 23, for the College’s second annual Black Monologues, which had been postponed due to a snowstorm on Feb. 9. Demand for the event was so great that the Black Student Union decided to move the monologues from last year’s venue of the Library Auditorium to the larger Mayo Concert Hall.
“The Black Monologues were created as a space for members of the College community to share their experiences in the black community,” said Sarah Bennett, president of BSU and a sophomore elementary education and math double major.
This year, 11 performers took the stage to share their stories. Despite the event’s name, the students did not share monologues, but, instead, recited poetry or sang.
In a poem entitled “Living Hell,” Daisy Tatum, a junior history and secondary education dual major, gave a gruesome view of race relations in modern America.
“I don’t want my children to grow up in this racist-ass place,” Tatum said. “I want them to live chain free, but currently, I see nothing but the shackles on the feet of my friends.”
Tatum touched on police brutality and the way in which black Americans have become the target of violence time and time again.
“My chest is compressed, and I can’t breathe,” said Tatum, referencing Eric Garner, who died in the chokehold of New York police officers in 2014. “I’m tired of this system. I’m tired of being oppressed. … A bullet has no name, but it sure has a color.”
Junior communication studies major Brianna Shepard echoed a similar sentiment. Shepard’s poem, titled “You Died Last Night,” was an ode to lives lost in the Black community.
“Your mocha-colored skin has been subjected to objectification, turned to nothingness and disregarded,” Shepard said. “You died last night, and although you will live, your soul will be missed.”
Political performances predominated the night. Students did not shy away from sharing their thoughts on current events and newly elected leaders.
“I’m very outspoken, and I like to stand up for what I believe in,” said Kevyn Teape, a sophomore marketing major. “Today, I just want to talk a little bit about politics and what it implements for my community.”
In his poem, Teape alternated between attacks on President Donald Trump and praise for his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
“We all know that most of the time the sequel sucks, but I can’t even call this a sequel because Obama believed everyone was equal, and Trump wants to build a wall and kick out the so-called ‘illegal people,’” Teape said. “I guess no matter how far we move in the right direction, some people won’t be satisfied unless it’s the right that’s doing the progressing.”
Unlike those before him, Teape expanded his message beyond the Black community. He spoke of Muslim rights and other minority groups that are threatened under the Trump administration.
“Who is the real American president?” Teape said. “Is it the one who unifies citizens or the one who promises to get rid of and alienate some of them? Is it the one who was wrongfully called a Muslim or the one who is wrongfully calling out Muslims?”
Themes of suffering and discontent were common throughout the night, but the performers also presented a message of persistence and strength within the Black community. Freshman international studies major Yanaja Joyner was no exception.
“I am society’s worst mistake,” Joyner said. “I am the nightmare they will never wake up from. I am a strong, educated Black woman. I am no one to be played with.”