New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Gallatin Celebrates Black Artistry with ‘Say It Loud!’

Gallatin’s Say It Loud! showed immense support for black artistry in New York through powerful words from young poets in the NYU community.
Destine Manson
Mekleit Dix, a first-year Master’s student in Gallatin, was one of many artists who performed during the school’s “Say It Loud!” showcase. Concluding Black History Month, artists shared messages of unity and pride. (Photo by Destine Manson)

At the tail end of Black History Month, artists in Gallatin’s “Say It Loud!” showcase shared their art about the complexities of Black skin in a white world. Sponsored by the Gallatin Offices of Student Affairs and Student Life, eight gifted poets and artists brought the Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre to life with a crowd of local supporters in and outside of the NYU community. 

The evening felt intimate in the dim lighting of the small theatre. Gallatin Senior DJ Ryan Waller provided the audience with smooth beats and soulful tracks to match the ambiance of the night. The MC of the night, Jayshawn Lee, encouraged love and support from the audience for those who took the stage by chanting “say it loud.” The energy spread throughout the room on the cold, bitter Thursday evening. Lee has been very active in voicing the power of words through his work as a student at NYU and beyond. Throughout the night, audiences were able to get a taste of the award-winning poet’s skills in-between the announcements.

The first poet to hit the stage was Gallatin Master’s first-year Mekleit Dix. Her poems silenced the crowd with the assertiveness of her calming tone. The piece recalled the grief and heartache produced from the reckless disposal of Black bodies across this country. “If only for a moment here is our victory, moonshine dripping off your skin,” Dix said. 

She used her poetry to tell a story of love and loss. Her poem was multi-faceted, like the war going on in the minds of Black men across this country who have to live in fear of constantly being seen before they are heard. She spoke of Black men who are often too busy fighting the world’s perception of them to relish in the love that is present in their lives.

Liberal Studies student Eleni Retta was next to take the stage, giving us a glimpse into the future of Black artistry at NYU with her poem “Home.” At the end of her poem, she reconciles which community failed to embrace her and her culture. “Home is not where I was raised, it is who I am despite.”

Unlike her fellow poets, Gallatin first-year Lauren Stockmon-Brown preferred to sit on stage. This did not detract from her stage presence. Stockmon-Brown delivered a heart-breaking tale about being mistaken as a male all of her life despite identifying as a woman. Gentle Ramirez told a similar tale of mistaken identity, drawing from their own experience as a trans non-binary poet. “The most unprotected woman in America is the trans Black woman,” Ramirez said in their first poem, igniting snaps and reassuring “mmhmms” from the audience. 

The room was warm with raw emotion and support for the artists on stage. Notable moments throughout the night included two short films produced by Gallatin students that focused on the plight of Black women when it comes to their outward appearance. One film made use of clips from the Oscar-winning short film “Hair Love” by Director Matthew A. Cherry. Further noteworthy performances included the effortless flow of Jordan Dorsey, who approached the mic under the stage name Not Shakespeare, giving us a taste of her rap bars over an instrumental beat.

The night ended with Robert Gibbons, the spotlight artist of the night. Gibbons has been active in New York City’s poetry scene since arriving from Florida over 10 years ago. He is currently a Literature Professor at the City College of New York. Accompanying him on stage was Tomas Gargano, a talented musician who has shared the stage with legendary artists like Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday. Their dynamic performance closed out a night of laughs, quiet reflection and appreciation for Black artists.

A version of this article appears in the Monday, March 2, 2020, print edition. Email Destine Manson at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Destine Manson, Deputy Copy Chief
Destine is a CAS junior studying Journalism and Politics. Originally from Atlanta, she's always up for a conversation about anything music or food-related and will dance to anything that vaguely sounds like music with anyone at anytime of the day. Follow her on Instagram @des.destine.
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