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Defining themselves

Women of color unite to express their unique talents in a night of performance

Several women demonstrate their artistic talents in a showcase for the “Telling our Stories” project. The project is intended to define and subsequently deconstruct stereotypes about women of color.

On April 29, the Women’s Center and the Women of Color Coalition partnered together to create a project entitled “Women of Color: Telling Our Stories” in the Commons Sports Zone. Megan Tagle Adams, the coordinator for the Women’s Center, and Bria Hamlet, a senior health administration and public policy double major as well as the current president of the Women of Color Coalition, organized the showcase.

The project’s aim was to raise awareness and reject stereotypes about women of color. Through promoted visibility and community-building, women were encouraged to stand in solidarity against racist and sexist comments. This challenges misrepresentations and creates a platform dedicated to their own self-representation.

Bria McCormick, a senior majoring in psychology, was one of the performers from that night. “Representative” was her first poetic piece detailing how she would masquerade her feelings in an effort to hide her reality. “Are You A Man” was her second piece about her feelings toward immature boys she knew in high school. In regards to performing, she said, “unfamiliar stages always feel like home by the end of the poem(s).”

Ashlei Gray (aka Smokei Gray) is a senior majoring in linguistics. She was inspired by the “Telling Our Stories” flyers. These flyers pictured various women of color defining stereotypes and stating that they did not identify with them.

“My set was about letting go of limiting expectations, be it from society, our loved ones, or even ourselves,” said Gray. She was not used to playing her guitar, but she was more confident and inspired to do so after hearing everyone else perform. She felt the energy from the engaging audience as she conveyed her message through lyrics.

An 18-year-old songstress named Makeda Rose belted out an original song called “Bad Gyal” and a Beyoncé medley of “Listen” and “If I Were A Boy,” with the accompaniment of her keyboard. She is currently a senior at George Washington Carver Center of Arts and Technology. Since the age of three, she honed her talent by embracing all music genres, particularly rhythm and blues and opera.

People of similar ethnicities criticized her eclecticness, but she continued to walk in her own truth. “My greatest inspirations are my ambitious mother and the talented Whitney Houston,” said Rose, “so I plan to attend Azusa Pacific University in California next year to major in contemporary vocal music and songwriting.”

Fourteen other women were showcased that night, revealing talents in photography, interpretive dance, poetry, monologues, music and visual arts. The women who performed that night were given a chance to expose their joys and sorrows, to reflect on them and to conquer how society defines them.

Photo Credit: Kristina Soetje