Written by Elizabeth Funderburk, Staff Writer
On Friday, November 5th, Alpha Psi Omega and Suspension Literary Magazine hosted an event called “Raise Your Voice” to celebrate writing and artwork created by women and non-binary people of color. Senior Sonia Charales, who is a member of both organizations, explained that she had been looking for a way for the groups to collaborate for a while. “I came up with the idea after seeing women and non-binary artists of color who work really hard at AC, but who don’t always get acknowledged. I wanted to help make a space for them to be heard,” she said. She cares deeply about making her fellow students feel welcome and able to share their talents with the greater Austin College community.
Furthermore, Charales described how the publishing industry can be extremely competitive. The work of people of color, women, and gender-nonconforming individuals, often goes unnoticed if it doesn’t fit the norms established by people in power (historically, white men). As editor-in-chief of the literary magazine on campus, Charales makes sure that people feel included. “Suspension encourages diverse writing without the cutthroat nature of publishing,” she explained. “At this event we wanted to amplify people’s voices in a setting where they would feel comfortable and welcome.” Along with Charales, seniors Delice Dembe and Aguiele Ndoungla, juniors Sawyer Ahmad and Apoorva Sakthivel, sophomore Roshni Khosla, and freshman Mya Thomas read a combination of poems, short stories, and monologues, many of which were their own original creations.
In addition to the spoken poems and stories, artwork created by Austin College students was displayed at the event as well. Some of these pieces were created by the seven speakers, while others were the handiwork of other women and non-binary students of color. As I spoke with Charales, we discussed the way in which art takes meaning, often different for different people, even when looking at the same piece. “Art really emphasizes a moment while also telling the whole journey. There’s something so incredible about how when someone sees art, they get so many layers of what the artist was trying to convey,” she said.
Not only was the event designed to give students a voice, Alpha Psi Omega and Suspension raised almost $400 for the Loveland Foundation, which helps provide mental health services to those in need. Beyond that, Charales described the joy she felt when talking to people after the event, especially the women and non-binary attendees. As for future Raise Your Voice events, Charales mentioned that she “hopes to continue to see marginalized voices being raised both at AC and elsewhere.”