Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

“Unmasking” Education and Entertainment at Power and Privilege 2024

On Thursday, Feb. 22, presenters will deliver lectures in Chism, Maxey and Reid for the 2024 Power and Privilege Symposium. This year’s theme, “Unmasked,” will draw attention to power dynamics on campus and in the world at large as presenters share their experiences and research. Rosaura Albizo, the Marketing Director for Power and Privilege, worked with the rest of the team to select this year’s theme based on campus interest in local and worldwide issues.

“We wanted to emphasize the current problems happening on campus while also tackling ongoing events happening on a national and worldwide level,” Albizo said.

Organizing the symposium has allowed the Power and Privilege team to engage with other students, staff and faculty, as well as reflect on-campus interests in social justice and community cooperation.

“I’m proud of the team that was able to pull this together and continue a tradition of justice and change within our community. This gives me hope for the future of the school, as we’re addressing the way we view the world and in return addressing the problems that are effecting students on campus,” Albizo said.

Tebraie Banda-Johns, advisor to the Power and Privilege team, has worked closely with student leaders to organize the event. For Banda-Johns, “Unmasked” as a theme for the 2024 sessions represents the entire team’s collaborative efforts to decide on a theme that represents the Whitman community and the original goals of Power and Privilege.

“Through brainstorming and campus community input the team does the difficult task of synergizing that information into a meaningful theme for P&P. Through that work, the team chose ‘Unmasked’ as a way for us to acknowledge our collective privilege, understand unique power dynamics and to urge the campus to build meaningful collaborations with each other,” Banda- Johns said, repeating the three elements of the theme that the symposium hopes to highlight.

Banda-Johns also emphasized changes in this year’s symposium that will let students hold difficult conversations and enjoy themselves on campus.

“The P&P Executive Team hosted a Kickoff event on Tuesday evening, 4:30 p.m. in Maxey Auditorium to highlight the significance of P&P and help attendees understand how to engage on the day. Lastly, there is a vendor market fair on Friday Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. where we have invited local Black owned businesses to join us in Reid to promote their business.” Banda-Johns said.

The Power and Privilege Symposium is an opportunity for students to engage with the campus community as well as social and political conflicts as presenters prepare for conversations around international and conceptual issues. The symposium this year will also offer time for students to relax and enjoy local entertainment company Sounds of the People, who will perform in Reid on Feb. 23.

Entering their second year at the symposium, Sounds of the People will be embracing the theme “Unmasked” with performances from Oblé Reed, Nobi and the Force, Kijon and co-founders ASANI? and HNY. The local arts and entertainment company aims to highlight BIPOC voices in the Pacific Northwest and looks forward to collaborating with this year’s symposium.

For Lindsey Luna and Asani Watson, returning for a second year to perform after Power and Privilege is an opportunity for them to play on this year’s theme and explore their goals of bringing diversity to Washington State’s music scene.

“This year’s theme is ‘Unmasked,’ so that’s why we chose to call it the PNW Superheroes. I think it’s really cool that this event is put together to be educational, and the culmination of the event is celebrating Black art and that’s a really cool way to end some the symposium with a bit of fun,” Luna said.

The theme connects more than with their tagline “Sounds of the People and the PNW Superheroes,” though. For Luna and Watson, the symposium supports their mission statement and provides an opportunity for them to celebrate Black History Month.

“Our mission statement is creating inclusive spaces, highlighting undiscovered artists and elevating Black and brown voices. A lot of what we do is trying to put BIPOC people on stages who are really talented. We’re excited to put people up on stages who we think are up and coming. We’re trying to give a voice to people who might not be heard in our community,” Luna said.

Like Tebraie Banda-Johns, Sounds of the People wants to take advantage of the educational space that Power and Privilege provides.

“We’re spending this time doing education about power and privilege, and we’re spending Black History Month talking about our history, where we come from, our trauma and let’s also put a spin on that and talk about current history-makers — people doing really awesome things whether that’s in the Walla Walla community, like myself, ASANI? and Kijon, or people in Washington state doing really big things like Oblé and Nobi,” Luna said.

The symposium synthesizes education about issues presented for students as well as local or national history during Black History Month; for Sounds of the People, this synthesis creates an environment that makes space for learning and for entertainment.

Ultimately, this year’s Power and Privilege Symposium hopes to engage with both education and fun as students attend presentations and events like Tuesday’s Kick-Off event, a Vendor’s Market and the performance by Sounds of the People and the PNW Superheroes.

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