New student group promotes racial justice in performance

Megan Tunnerman

Managing Editor

 

Amidst this challenging semester, Teresa Ascencio ’23 and Victoria  Silva ’23 are working to bring positive change to campus with the BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) Performing Arts Alliance.

Ascencio explained that in her first semester at the College last fall, she was in an acting class with Silva that led them to a discussion about “the importance of Latinx representation onstage and how
Latinx identities can be narrow and misconstrued in the public light,  whether that be as gang members, prisoners or even horrible  criminals, all of which do not truly show the beauty of Latinx cultures along with the variety of struggles we face.” That discussion led to the idea for a Latinx Theatre Coalition, which has since transformed into the BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance in light of the recent Black Lives Matter movement, as well as racial turmoil due to the upcoming election. “This way, our organization can both support and uplift members of communities that are discriminated against in
our society, and even within the theater community, as stories are
misconstrued and stereotypes are prevalently used to tell false narratives,” said Ascencio.

The current mission statement of the organization, according to Ascencio, is as follows: the purpose of the BIPOC Performing Arts  Alliance is to create an empowering space for BIPOC students to  invest in and expand on the various cultural areas of the performing arts, both on and off campus. This organization allows BIPOC students a space and platform to speak out against racial injustice
within the performing arts, to advocate for representation and  education centered on BIPOC experiences and to work with other  students on meaningful change at the artistic and educational level.
It will also provide students with a variety of resources and experiences to enrich their creativity, find meaningful mentorship and support and generate further artistic, educational and career related inspiration.

“BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance is just what it sounds like, an  alliance. We want BIPOC students to feel togetherness and empowerment through their medium of performance,” says Silva. Current faculty advisor for the organization, Professor of Theatre &  Dance Jimmy Noriega, echoed Ascencio and Silva’s comments, stating, “this organization responds to the need for structural change in higher education and the larger performing arts world, where BIPOC artists and their experiences are often silenced,  marginalized or ignored.”

The BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance plans on holding on campus events for the general student body (when it is safe to do so un-
der COVID-19 restrictions), with several potential guest speakers, as well as “more intimate meetings around discussion and  performance and even potential workshops for students to attend,”
stated Silva.

Students interested in becoming a part of this organization should keep an eye on their email. Once the organization is officially chartered, students will be able to join the mailing list to stay up to date on the organization’s bi-weekly open meetings. “While our organization is open to all students for open meetings and allyship purposes, we heavily encourage all BIPOC performing arts students to join us for both our open and closed meetings. This way, we can have involvement of all students on campus while also providing safe spaces and specific resources to those students who identify as BIPOC in the performing arts,” commented Ascensio.

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