On February 7th, St. Mary’s was being prepared for the annual African-American Read In. Every year the Multicultural Programs and English Department hosts this event along with a dinner during African-American History month. It has become a tradition across the nation to share stories, poems or lyrics from your favorite artist from the African-American community to promote unity.
Every year the event has always been in the Terrace Room, but with the library being renovated it was moved to St. Mary’s. The space was occupied with about 60 people sitting at tables and some lining up to grab some rice gumbo, corn bread, salad and pastries provided by Bon Appetit. The first hour was spent eating and socializing with people that you sat with.
Bethany Sills, the Multicultural Program Coordinator went to the front of the room and thanked everyone for coming and introduced the English Department. Then they started the list of readers, many reading poems, a short story, lyrics from a song, or some quote from their favorite African-American.
Sophomore Reachel S., read a very powerful poem, “One thing I don’t need” by Ntozake Shange. She vividly embodied the poem she read, people around the room were sniffling through the end of the poem, and she had one of the strongest applauses when finished.
When asking Tynishia Walker what did she think about the readings, she responded “It was open to do a reading about your favorite African-American person, not specifically diversity and some were wow, that was amazing!”
Events hosted by Multicultural Program is to promote more diversity on campus and to educate students about issues that surround diversity. Bethany Sills said in the beginning of the event, “We really appreciate that you come out to this event, it is amazing to see some repetitive faces in the 10 years I have been here, and I want to say a special thanks to the seniors who came tonight for their last African-American Read In, we appreciate the support.”
When asked Tynishia thought the outcome was very diverse for being an event on campus, she responded ” Yeah I thought that during the event, I have not seen this many students of color in one room in my four years at the University of Portland.” Since these events are created to promote more diversity on campus, the event should have a big group of diverse people.
Tynishia as a student diversity coordinator hopes that this event was an opportunity for people to acknowledge the culture and individuals from that culture. This event gives a piece of diversity and gives people a chance to acknowledge that.
Hopefully the programs that Multicultural Coordinators put on have more outcomes like the one the African-American Read In did.
Learn to embrace or at least acknowledge diversity.
At the end of this month they will be hosting Diversity Dialogues Week, hopefully you can make some time to go them and learn.