by Zach McGuckin | Staff Writer
After postponement due to campus closure last spring, seven student poets were finally able to perform the 5th Annual Diversity Monologues, a program where students share how their cultures and experiences shape their understanding of the given theme. This year’s diverse group of poets explored different angles of the theme “How do you come to know love?”
“The significance of Diversity Monologues is the opportunity to hear someone’s story,” said Kendy Valadez, one of the student poets. “It prompts people to think more deeply on the experiences of those around them.”
Valadez spoke about her relationship with her mother in her piece “El Calor De Sol.” “I came to know love through her sacrifice. She laid her aspirations at her feet and was willing to crush them. To let the world crush them, turn them to soil that would, nineteen years later, nurture my own wishes and dreams,” Valadez said.
In her poem “Whole,” Ehi Agbontean talked about discovering self-love rooted in her Christian faith. “I wanted people to know that they have the power to change the narrative and shouldn’t let other people or situations define them,” Agbontean said.
Another student poet, Chauncella Koulibali, discussed when she first visited Côte d’Ivoire and discovered that skin bleaching is a major industry in Africa. “That feeling of immense sadness has never escaped me and now I see colorism everywhere. It’s so inculcated in our world. It’s insane,” Koulibali said. “I used this monologue as an outlet for the grief I have about self-hatred in the Black community.”
In her piece “A Letter for Love,” Koulibali said, “Habitually my cousins told me how pretty I was for having dark skin. They would line me up with me and my sisters ranking us from most beautiful to most black. A procedure not unfamiliar to that of a slave auction.”
Student poets unable to attend the event in person pre-recorded videos of themselves presenting their monologues. One of these many videos featured Ibrahim Diop, with his piece “Light my Love”. In his monologue, Diop said, “This system is my worst enemy, they want us in cemeteries. Worst, put us in penitentiaries. The system is my worst enemy, because it makes black men enemies, with brothers who envy me and got a lot of jealousy.”
The other speakers, Janeth Beltran Apodaca, Karen Sobtafo and Nandia Schirchindorj, discussed everything from their love of food to their acceptance of their natural hair to their story of immigrating to America.
Despite the reduced seating in Cowles Auditorium, the energy throughout the event was palpable. Nearly every speaker, whether they spoke in person or submitted a video, was met with a standing ovation. Once the final speaker had ended, the auditorium broke into a chorus of congratulations.