SDEC and Currents host Diversity Dialogues

Two organizations came together for a night of unity, diversity and creativity

As campus became showered with rain and early darkness last Friday night, Nov. 15, two organizations on campus enlightened the Crows Nest with their comforting event. The Student Diversity and Equality Council (SDEC) teamed up with Currents Literary Magazine for an evening called Diversity Dialogues. The event began with everyone huddled together, confused but curious about what was to come of the night. 

Ashley McHenry, President of SDEC, started off the evening with an engaging activity for everyone: puzzle pieces where we can write and enlarge on what we signify as our identity. My immediate identity marks were how I see myself as a “Delta Gamma woman,” “Scottish” and a “Film Reviewer.” Every day, I pertain these identities to my overall, diverse self. Ever since I have joined a sorority, I have been more mindful and thoughtful about my values and my livelihood on campus.

The small yet impactful symbol of a puzzle piece showcases how proud each of us is of our identities and how everyone’s unique attributes contribute to a diverse community. My friends and our other fellow attendees all discussed these individual identifying choices and why they were chosen. It was reassuring knowing that regardless of our majors, sexual identities, ethnicities and other identifying factors, we can come together and find similarities in one another. 

As this quick session ended, the event moved on to the poetry reading, which was a keynote by Derick Stephenson, Jr. At first glance, attendees could notice the heavy stack of books in his hand titled “Stream of Consciousness: Hoodie Season.”

Before Stephenson introduced himself, he asked one thing from the crowd as he freely handed out his own signed copies of his poetry book: to read it and then to ask a friend of ours to go out and buy their own copy. 

After his short introduction, Stephenson started to read aloud his own poetry excerpts to all of us. He elaborated on the reasoning behind the poems content, diving deep into his own intersectionality as a black man and his reflections on his childhood and manhood collectively.

“We make up so many rules about being black,” Stephenson said. “Even as a man, I actually went and got a pedicure over the summer after years of withholding myself from self care due to society’s image of masculinity… I’m so appreciative to have been apart of my fraternity because we aren’t afraid to say we love each other and hug each other.”

Stephenson’s honesty about toxic masculinity and the oppression in black stereotype broadened the horizons of everyone in attendance as he passionately read aloud his poetic works. His words mirrored the down-to-earth reality about the dishonesty in the mass media’s interpretation, and they connected my own conflictions in oppression and privilege. 

Once Stephenson wrapped up, McHenry invited everyone to a painting set up behind us.  As the music hummed in the background, everyone began to sit in the tight-knit corner, conversing about our unique backgrounds. 

Diversity Dialogues became a night of reflection, full of kind hearts and audibly spoken truth. I encourage anyone and everyone to come out to SDEC and Currents Literary Magazine’s next possible future collaborative events and to not be afraid to open up about your own diverse nature.

~Ashley McMillan, A&E Editor~

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