“Speaking Justice” featuring spoken word poet Timothy DuWhite

Speaking Justice Event

Iraiza de Vera Arts & Entertainment Contributor

Members of the OSU community gathered in the Memorial Union lounge for a night of spoken word and poetry at the “Speaking For Justice” event.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., students and faculty shared their feelings regarding injustice by performing pieces of work during the evening of Jan. 21.

“It’s important to have an event like this to have spaces available for students that don’t usually get to talk about topics that don’t get talked about in academic space or in a space like this through an art form,” said Jenna Gagnon, pre-business sophomore and RHA activities coordinator.

“People can avoid these conversations and these topics of issues but they are happening now.” Gagnon said, “Racism is not dead, sexism is not dead—these isms aren’t dead. They’re still present here and they’re not being talked about.”

After each performance, audience members rhymically snapped to show their support of the speakers, creating an interactive environment. Spoken word poet, Timothy DuWhite appeared as a guest speaker and shared his thoughts on his life experiences.

“As an artist, I’m constantly going through a lot and I have a whole bunch of feelings going back and forth ,so if I can release that and help someone else release that, it feels really great,” DuWhite said.

Issues regarding various kinds of injustice were freely discussed and brought to attention. Each performer talked about struggles personal to them and articulated their view on the world. UHDS staff member Brandi Douglas expressed that inspiration for her poem came from not knowing the extent of her family history.

“It’s difficult when you see that your family tree is a property list… you realize that slavery wasn’t as long ago as you thought,” Douglas said. Douglas voiced her desire to know more about her history so she could share it with future generations.

In her series of short stories, “Not That Far,” she spoke of the personal connection she has with those who have come before her.

“In these beautiful veins are my ancestors… they have memories, they have stories, they have histories that live,” Douglas said.

Speaking Justice encourages people to come together and share their stories among listening ears. This event provides the opportunity to shed light on topics that would not be talked about openly otherwise.

“Exposing people to more of these stories is very important because it makes them realize there are people who are hurt by a certain thing and they might have even done it.” said Marquina Hofschneider, political science junior.

“A lot of what this university is about is trying to get your mind to critically think about the issues you are presented with in the world and doing that, you find who you are and how you react in the world you live in… making students feel discomfort and experience something they’re not familiar with makes them utilize critical thinking skills.” Hofschneider said. Her thoughts reflect that it takes discomfort to change a mindset and a proper mindset to translate into action.

In addition to the annual Speaking Justice event, there are other ways to get involved with social justice on campus. Gagnon encourages students to inquire further and to question their observations of the world they perceive.

“Students who liked this event or want to know more about social justice—reach out to the CRC’s or CRF’s and go out there and delve into it. Ask those tough questions saying ‘why is it this way?’ because if we’re not going to be asking questions, we’re never going to get answers and we’re never going to get anything done.”

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