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‘Say It Loud’ addresses race

February 24, 2012

“Say It Loud,” the event hosted by Umoja and the Crimson Masque, was a hit, with students filling the seats and waiting for the first act. The first half was filled with poetry readings, monologues, dialogues and other acts.

After the entertainment portion of the night, those who wanted to stay for the open forum discussion stayed while others slowly left. The discussion was kicked of with a guest speaker. Former Monmouth College student Wynton Shannon kicked off the discussion with a letter he had written to the school after he left MC. The letter was entitled “How My Private College Taught Me to Hate Whites.” Immediately after he read the title, the vibe of the room seemed to shift.

Shannon began his letter by explaining why he decided to attend Monmouth.

“I wanted to be exposed to diversity, a luxury unavailable in my segregated native town,” said Shannon. He had dreamed of a multitude of friends from all different backgrounds, but the reality, according to his letter, was far from what he had anticipated.

As he continued, he explained what he had encountered while he attended Monmouth and why he left. Shannon said he did not take the loose usage of the “N” word on campus and reported it.

“I never signed up for this. I do not ever recall requesting to include ‘racial assaults with that grant’ in my financial aid package,” Shannon said.

After he finished the eleven-page letter, mixed emotions filled the room. One student who had been referenced in the letter was upset.

“I was very angry because he had false information about my speech that I gave last year,” said senior Ellen Boshart.

The letter had stated that she had used the “N” word in an improper manner and upset African-American students in her class. The letter claimed that many African American students unified and created an old fashioned ‘sit-in’ demanding she recite the poem as well as an explanation on why she felt she was permitted to use the word.”

Boshart denied using the “N” word inappropriately. 

“I personally was not using the word, I was quoting African Americans who use the word,” said Boshart.

Boshart was also unhappy with the letter in general.

“It made me angry because he was directly insulting white people as a whole,” said Boshart. “Yes, [the letter] was powerful in an angry way, but it didn’t address any actual issues.”

Despite the mixed feelings on the letter Boshart and many others enjoyed the event. Junior Zakiyyah Ali, Umoja’s secretary, felt that the event was very successful.

“It had a really large turnout. There was a lot of heated discussion. The discussion needed to be done,” said Ali. “Everyone has their own story, and it’s important for it to be heard. I’ve experienced things also, but I’m not going to let it hold me back. Umoja’s goal is to take the negative energy and turn it into a positive.”

Serious discussion followed the letter reading with some students expressing negative feelings about race on campus and others expressing positive feelings. The open forum allowed the issued to be discussed and for different views to be heard.

“The purpose of the event was to bring all cultures together,” said Ali. “And to let students know it’s OK to be open and learn about other cultures.”

Ali believed “Say It Loud” accomplished its goal.

Noel Keyes
Contributing Writer

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