Associated Students discusses Voices from the Left

Samantha Festin, Staff Writer

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Taylor Carpenter, 25, Black/Africana Studies and Communication Studies major, presented a slideshow sharing pictures and quotes from those who have attended the Voices from the Left event throughout the past years. This presentation was displayed as a proposal for the Associated Student Government to allow to take place in the upcoming year. The Associated Students agreed to continue this event as they were convinced by the words of the people who were a part of the event. Carpenter introduced the event as a showcase, movement, chance to be yourself or someone else, and to be real about your feelings.

Carpenter presented testimonies that demonstrated how the event affected the speakers and audience members that attended Voices from the Left. Tina Marie Carpenter, Taylor’s mother, was one of the people who participated in the event shared her testimony. “I was so inspired watching performances from students and staff at Mesa’s Voices from the Left event,” Carpenter’s mom said. “Very empowering for the cast and audience as the poems dealt with issues of racism, bullying, and various forms of abuse. Proud to be friends with such a dynamic teacher, director, and champion, Sakeenah Gallardo, who encourages her students to find their voices. Mesa is fortunate to have such a gem working for them!”

Professor Thekima Mayasa was one of the performers that presented a piece called “For All the Little Girls with Big Names.” This was a poem that reflected the importance of women in society. Audience members were moved by this speech and had the opportunity to share their opinions with each other. The next presenter Professor Fred Chambers performed an original poem called “Lyrics.”

“Voices From The Left provides a platform for students, faculty, and the community at large to connect with, and engage in alternative epistemologies and pedagogies known as Voice Scholarship. As such, all participants find a place to connect their realities with those of others’ and with new knowledge that empowers, encourages ownership of learning, and produces appreciation of the diverse expressions and experiences that make up our humanity.” Professor Mayasa said. “This venue also provides a space where students and faculty can work together in equal standing, thereby fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for each others humanity. This form of edutainment is important in higher education to show that learning is not only challenging and inspiring, but can also be fun!” 

Zara Almusawi, Taylor Carpenter, and Sumaya performed a poem called “Catcall.” The founder, director, role model, and professor, (as described by Carpenter), Sakeenah Gallardo, cried as she hugged one of the presenters Jade after she surprised her by reading letters from former students with Almuwasi, Sumaya, and Carpenter at the end of the show. “She had no idea and was totally caught off guard.” Carpenter said. “She cried the entire three minutes.”

“Being a part of Voices From The Left meant that I was a part of something that is a lot bigger than me. It is what change looks and feels like.” Almusawi said. “A space like Voices is needed on all college campuses to spark an open and honest conversation about things that need to be shared. Performing with the cast made me feel truly supported, loved, and understood. If you’re wanting to learn about yourself and feel safe to do so, Voices From The Left is an experience that’ll help you reveal that & more.”

“I created Voices on a whim. I was listening to a Beyonce song, of all things, ‘To The Left’ and I realized that all the things that people no longer want, are pushed ‘to the left’. They’re also left out or left behind. I wanted to create a space for students who felt that way to tell their story through creative expression.” Professor Sakeenah Gallardo, founder of Voices from the Left, said. “I tell my students constantly that their voice is their strongest asset, their best ally to get their truth out, because if we don’t tell our stories, who will? Voices From The Left is so important to me to have every semester because we always have different students (and faculty) tell their stories. The narratives range from coming out as LGBT, to being a person of color in the U.S., experiencing life as a woman, trying to survive as a DACA student in Trump times, reclaiming your disability, and aging well. Our stories need to be shared, and they need to be heard. All of these voices are important, and I try to create a space that cultivates and gives them freedom to share their voice, while feeling safe and proud that their story was heard amongst their fellow students.”

“Voices is vital for our students because it highlights not just a diversity of experiences but also the intersectionality of struggles on our campus.” Professor Jennifer Derilo said. “In turn, Voices offers us a safe space to share these experiences and struggles, to make connections, and to create a culture of compassion. As an audience and faculty member, I attend Voices because my love for this community grows more with each show.”

“As senators, we are the ‘voice’ of the student body. That means making good decisions, because the things we do have an impact on student’s lives.” Carpenter said. “In just two years, Voices From The Left has grown in audience size from around 130 to over 300 people. The word is getting out and the movement is growing. Please vote in favor of this event, and allow us continue to support students by helping them find their voice, and empowering them to share their stories. Thank you.” Carpenter encouraged the Associated Student Government to inspire students with this event during their meeting on Oct. 8.

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Associated Students discusses Voices from the Left