A small group of students came together Friday night in a cozy Rainbow Center lounge to share their experiences with identity through a series of poems and videos.
The Rainbow Center hosts a themed event every Friday night, where students can meet others and relax. Last Friday’s theme was spoken word poetry and it began with a poetry workshop, which transitioned into an open-mic. Participants read their poetry aloud to others.
“Superheroes are something every boy likes, right?” Daniel Lopez, a ninth semester communications major, said. “But the problem is almost every one that I saw growing up was white.”
Lopez was exposed to superheroes at a young age because his father loved comic books, Lopez said. He especially connected with black superheroes like the Green Lantern in Cartoon Network’s “The Justice League” and Kids WB’s Static Shock in the 1990s.
When Lopez first played Zelda and the screen prompted him to name a white Link, he said, “I’m thinking, I don’t look anything like this dude, so I’m not going to name him my name.”
At the end of his poem, he reiterated a childhood desire to be as important as the heroic characters he grew up with.
“Maybe there could be a legend about someone like me,” Lopez said, referencing the game “The Legend of Zelda.”
Other poets talked about relationships, gender and sexuality.
“I knew who I was, but I didn’t know how to say it,” fifth semester chemical engineering major Sam Ramsay said.
Ramsey, who was previously home-schooled, moved to Connecticut at 13 years old, where she was introduced to public school for the first time.
She didn’t know how to respond, she said, when kids in her high school asked her out, so she replied with “I don’t date.”
She grew up in a world of romance, but quickly realized that she was aromantic, experiencing little to no attraction for others, Ramsay said. It wasn’t until she was introduced to words like “aromantic” that she began to understand herself.
“The words that I do not have are better than those I’ve thrown away,” Ramsey said.
If she knew these words growing up, she said, her experiences in high school would have been completely different.
“The poem is just me wondering how my life would have been different if I had those words,” Ramsey said.
The poetry workshop allowed participants to explore their identity and that of others. One of the prompts read, “Write about a time you felt invisible in your life” and continued with “Looking at what you wrote, identify an object that symbolizes that time and draw it on the board.”
Participants then chose an object they had not contributed and in the following prompt they wrote poems to connect with the experiences of others in the room.
“The reception I received tonight makes me want to go back and develop the poem more,” Lopez said.
Diler Haji is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.