Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
Annie Gough Contributor
Students and faculty gathered last Tuesday for a postmortem discussion on Performance Artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s visit to Kalamazoo College to flesh out their thoughts on pressing topics that he raised, including ethnic identity and the discrimination of Chicanos in the United States.
The talk was facilitated by faculty members, including Assistant Professor of Anthropology Adriana Garriga-Lopez, Executive Director of the Arcus Center Jamie Grant, Professor and Director of the Theatre Arts Department Ed Menta and Visiting Assistant Professor of English Shanna Salinas.
According to Garriga-Lopez, when Gómez-Peña was on campus, he not only performed “The Return of Border Brujo,” but also met in a workshop-performance setting with classes in Chicano literature and Latin American studies.“We thought it would be important to reflect communally on his presence here and the work he did during those three intense days,” Garriga-Lopez said.
At Tuesday’s postmortem discussion, K Students said they took multiple messages away from both the performance and workshop session that will help them confront complex issues like racial discrimination.
“It’s okay to be uncomfortable when hard questions are asked and when you feel partly responsible,” said Maddie MacWilliams ’16.
The discussion transitioned from what Garriga-Lopez coined as a “love fest” for the performance artist into tougher conversation like MEChA’s protest after the performance and the complexities of defining race.
During the postmortem talk, Grant shared a story about a conversation black feminist writer and activist Audre Lorde once had with a white activist. “‘Don’t feel guilty about your privilege, USE it! I don’t have what you have!’” Grant quoted Lorde’s words to the activists.
“That has helped me let go of my paralysis… How can I redistribute opportunities and rewards that are basically ill-gotten gains of a rigged system?” Grant said.
Grant said she hopes the K community can continue to have discussions to help us grow rather than stopping at positions of “blame-and-shame”.