Participants and members of United Minorities Council shared poetry readings, a cappella performances and multilingual raps Thursday night to express their experiences as minority students at Penn.
One Mic, the first event of UMC’s Unity Month, represented the theme of “gaining identity,” which is the first of four “Steps to Solidarity” the group has identified.
The subsequent weeks will each include programming focused on the next steps in the process — “building community,” “creating movements not moments” and “mobilize.”
College junior Jocelyn Afadapa wrote and read a poem dedicated to her grandmother at Thursday’s open mic.
“My grandmother has always been there for me and a lot of my traditions and my cultures come from her,” she said. ”I wanted to write something that would be a way to honor her. The event is about finding your identity and I find my identity with my grandmother.”
College freshman Amaya Dianafelt inspired by the event.
“It’s interesting to hear the perspectives from a large variety of students from campus — and honestly the poems are really good,” Diana said. “They put their hearts and souls into them.”
“It’s just a very intimate event. You reflect a lot in that space,” Wharton senior and UMC chair Temilola Ransome-Kuti said. Voicing her appreciation for the ability to turn identity into art, Ransome-Kuti said the open mic was “definitely a moving event.”
After the eight performances, participants formed conversation circles by various identifications including sexual orientation, disability and low-income or first-generation status.
Many students stepped up to share their personal experiences.
“Being [a] minority doesn’t have to be non-white students at Penn,” UMC programming co-chair and College junior Maya Arthur said . “Minorities are just like voices and cultures and experiences that aren’t the dominant norm on campus.”
“You would inherently perform as an individual, and you perform a certain identity, a certain mode, et cetera. It presents an honesty, a vulnerability as minorities at Penn, because I think at a lot of times we try to be guarded about certain things,” Arthur said.
Ransome-Kuti noted how the UMC brings different minority groups together and facilitates discussions on how various identities intersect.
“We try to find intersections with our group such as disability awareness campaign[s] and we’ve talked a lot about sexuality, all different things and how they connect,” she said.
“Race and ethnics affect everything so we can talk about all these different ways of minorities but always draw back to what it is meant to be a person of color, because that’s the lens we want to focus on.”