Activist Speaks At Women's Center Event

The passion for knowledge, social issues and justice is no stranger to poet and activist, Staceyann Chin. Through her powerful, dominant ambiance and choice of elevating words, Chin invites listeners into her thoughts on activism and acknowledging culture.

As part of the University’s Women’s History Month “Get in Formation: Women of Color & Contemporary Activism,” The Women’s Center hosted the keynote event “Activism from Where You Are,” lead by Staceyann Chin.

“It’s good to share this month with you, this month satisfies dealing with the gargantuan issue of being a woman,” Chin opens with.

During the workshop, Chin engaged in conversation with listeners about their passions and ideas, views on social issues, activism work and finding unique pathways to inform, organized and spread their activism.

“I find that one of the things I struggle with, certainly other women and others who feel marginalize in some way, is the thought of taking up too much space,” Chin said. “There’s this notion, especially on college campus situations, is that we have a room and one person is in charge and this one person talks and everyone kind of listens.”

Chin immediately dismantles this concept of taking up too much space, by commanding space and reading excerpts from her memoir “The Other Side of Paradise.”

Through these readings, Chin gave insight into her younger years and her constant thirst for knowledge and voicing her opinions and thoughts on religion to coming out as a lesbian woman in Jamaica and the threat of violence looming over anyone who is queer or is resistant to the societal norms and structures of men and women in Jamaica.

“Activism from where you are is not really what you do, it’s about how you think about it, how you decide to act a certain way towards a situation or issues that arise,” Chin said. “What you decide to do and how you do it depends on where you are in mindset and life.”

Chin emphasized the power of being able to speak out and ask questions without being uncomfortable. Chin opened the floor for listeners to share their instances of doing activism in certain moments in life or discussing their passions and ideas for activist work.

“I voice a lot of my opinions and ideas through poetry and spoken word. A lot of what I speak on involves issues with race and the multiple intersections of people of color,” an audience member said.

Others voice the work that they are involved in on campus, which mainly centered on the major issue of making the University a welcoming campus and rallying against white supremacy groups.

Chin pinpointed that one of the best ways to do activism from where you are is to form a coalitions of people who are determined to organize effectively for a cause and plan a cohesive strategy to execute it.

“A lot of what we don’t do on the activist forefront is that we kind of don’t get very strategic like the other people. We need to plan and coordinate more and not have just one voice be the voice for everyone,” Chin said.

As part of the workshop, Chin had participants form groups of five to discuss in further detail what members of the Bowling Green community can do to display activism in the community.

Chin also encouraged everyone to exchange numbers in hopes that the discussions taken place can go even further to organizing.

Chin ended the workshop with two of her poems – one called “Take Back the Night.”

“The process of being an activist is that you have to practice it all the time, and when I say all the time, I do not mean get into the big fights all the time. You always need the idea in your head that you want to disrupt the dominant narrative. You have to get in the habit of doing that, and then you have to think strategically,” Chin said.

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