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Students share poems on identity at Gittler Prize event

Numerous speeches and poems connected to aspects of identity and education were performed at the Evening of Art, Identity, and Lived Experience with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum on Thursday, Oct. 4, at the Intercultural Center.

The evening began with Daniella Castillo ’22 giving a speech “Perfecta,” about being an outsider and having the expectations of being perfect, as well as other struggles of belonging while being a Latina immigrant in the United States: “Assimilate to this culture, this is your culture now, but not really, pretend it is your culture, but season it with ortega and oregano and hot sauce.”

Kamil Banks ’22 shared a poem about being a black woman in the Bronx, the hardships she had to face and all the things she was taught to do throughout her entire childhood. Angel Henriquez ’22 continued on a similar note, giving a speech on the hardships of being Latino in Washington D.C., where he is from. Catherine Romero ’22 continued with her speech on the challenges she and her family had to face as immigrants while not being financially well off.

Julian Meraz ’23 shared his poem about the challenges of being queer and the son of immigrants and how there are still challenges even though it may seem that he is privileged. Michala Coates ’23 discussed similar issues of trying to fit in while being queer and an immigrant. Denezia Fahie ’23 read her poem about the perception of black beauty in contemporary American society. Gisel Urena ’23 and Nikki Polanco-Diaz ’23, both of Dominican descent, performed a traditional Dominican dance. All of these students are MKTYP Scholars.

Victoria Richardson ’22, an MLK Fellow, shared a poem about not changing who she is to fit into society. The series of performances were followed by comments from Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, a psychologist and educator on the topic of racism, who said that she was glad she heard so many “affirmations of identity” during this event. Coates and Henriquez performed again, speaking of their pride in their identity. The evening ended with MKTYP Director Kathryn Bethea-Rivera sharing a few of her poems, as well as a group reflection on sharing such personal stories and the event in general.

The Evening of Art, Identity, and Lived Experience is part of the Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize Award Presentation and Residency and is sponsored by the MLK Fellowship and the MKTYP.

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