by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
What does it mean to be a person of color in America? Five students shared their reflections during the 2015 Diversity Monologues Contest, an annual event that invites student contestants to deliver three- to five-minute poems, monologues or speeches around an annual theme.
The 13th-annual program, "Dear America ...," began with readings by guest artist Nicole Santalucia, a poet and professor at Shippensburg University. Then it was time for contestants Robert Hill ’18, Tyree Grant ’16, Janel Pineda ’18, Quadrese Glass ’19 and Erik Rivera ’17 to vie for the prize.
Glass earned third prize; Pineda, second; and Rivera emerged as the winner.
In his award-winning piece, “Arizona and Skittles”—a reference to the items 17-year-old Trayvon Martin purchased on the night he was shot by George Zimmerman in 2012—Rivera spoke passionately about the ongoing legacy of racial injustice in America.
“It means a lot to me to win this award, because it pushes me to continue to help empower people of color,” said Rivera, a spoken-word veteran and double major in psychology and philosophy. “No matter how much we have been put through, we are still able to stand strong.”
Held Nov. 21 in the Rector Atrium, the contest was sponsored by the Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity. The center's director, Vincent Stephens, was pleased by the turnout and the strength of the performances.
“All five contestants are conscientious students who approached this poignant topic with creativity,” he noted, “and I am grateful for the wide support we received from students, faculty and staff at this critical moment, when young people are questioning social institutions and the nation’s broader cultural aspirations.”
Published November 24, 2015