Sunnie Ning ‘18
On Saturday April 15, Weaving Voices hosted its annual Senior Monologues, featuring the stories of seniors of color. The monologues attracted a large audience, packing the entire Weinstein Auditorium. Among the audience were current students, faculty members and alums who were involved in Weaving Voices during their time at Smith. The monologues featured the works of 21 seniors.
Weaving Voices is an unchartered student organization that aims to bring together students of color and empower them through their voices. A group of students of color founded the organization in 2010 to recognize that Smith provided few spaces for students of color to gather together as a whole rather than as separate cultural groups, and that this perpetuated the division amongst those students. The organization was intentionally not chartered, hoping that separation from the institution of Smith would better serve the needs of students of color free from oppression. With a mission to break down walls of color, class, religion, sex, gender and sexual orientation, Weaving Voices has established an inclusive community for all Smith students of color. Weaving Voices has expanded its work to include open mics, annual Senior Monologues, exhibitions and much more.
The organizers of Weaving Voice Monologues see it as a platform for celebration, storytelling and community building. The event page on Facebook reads, “These are our stories, our experiences and our knowledge shaped not only by race/ethnicity, but also by class, gender, sexuality, ability, and many other facets of our lives. We are leaving evidence for those who come after us, passing on ‘that there are other ways to live–past survival; past isolation.’ (quotation from Mia Mingus.)”
This year’s monologues are centered on this question: “Each year there is an increase of students of color entering Smith College. But what have been their individualized and shared experiences during the last four years? What are their stories?”
This year, the hosts were Cecelia Lim ’17 and Raven Fowlkes-Witten ’17. The performers were introduced by a close friend from a lower class year before their performance. Performers went up to a microphone stationed on the stage, performing their work from memory or reading from pages. The crowd supported performers by snapping in agreement and cheering them on as they outlined personal struggles with racism and identity. Some readers broke down during their readings, and many in the audience teared up too, moved by the intensity of their stories. Performers used various forms of artistic expression, such as spoken-word poetry, video, audio and dance.
The performances ended around 9:30 p.m., and the seniors were invited back on stage and given flowers. A reception in the Campus Center followed, to congratulate seniors on their performances and to give space for conversations.
There is a second component to the event: an art exhibit featuring work created by the senior participants in the Monologues. It will be held in the Campus Center Nolan Art Lounge from Saturday, April 15 to Thursday, April 20.