Ivy Tech storytelling event to explore racial identity

BLOOMINGTON – Tickets are on sale for the Ivy Tech Storytelling Series: On Race, which will be held Friday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center. The event will share stories from local men, women, and teens that chronicle how the race and racial identity has affected their personal and professional lives. This is the third event in Ivy Tech’s Storytelling Series, which aims to create a platform for local members of our communities to tell stories of their personal experiences facing issues of immigration, reproductive rights, unemployment, and racism.

Ivy Tech Storytelling Series: On Race will include live and multimedia storytelling performances. All stories are true as remembered and affirmed by the storytellers.

“Using all the true stories we collect as our script, we will create a window into the human experiences behind the politics we each subscribe to,” said Aubrey Seader, co-producer of the event. “We’ll get a look into the lives of people whose beliefs on and experiences with race and racial identity span a large spectrum, and represent the long history of the American battle for racial equality. Beyond that, we’ll see how racial identity and racism manifest themselves right here in Bloomington – what prejudices do local communities and individuals still hold? Does appreciating diversity and having a multi-cultural town necessarily mean that racism doesn’t rear its ugly head in our city?”

The cast and stories will include the following:

Phiona Raffington will share poetry about transformation, and of finding and claiming her faith in a mixed up world.

Maurisa Li-A-Ping, Brooklyn-raised storyteller, educator, and performer, will share poetry and prose, taking us through a day in her life and imagining a world in which “black women are never late to their freedom.” Maurisa is a recipient of the Ernst Pawl Award for literary excellence, and of national and regional honors from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She has performed at the World Famous Apollo Theater, for the United Nations, and at Barclay Center.

Reverend Dennis Laffoon’s original story will be shared via audio recording. Reverend Laffoon was present for the centennial meeting and celebration for the national leadership of the African Methodist Episcopal church in Philadelphia, in 2016. During this four-day meeting, elsewhere in the United States two unarmed black men were shot, and the streets of Philadelphia erupted in protest. How the church leadership responded to the youth’s protesting that day is something that made a profound impression on Reverend Laffoon, and reminded him of the principles upon which the AME Church was built.

Local teen Dahlia Ritter will perform an original poem about race and racism and their place in her life as a middle school student.

Local teen Molly Bui will tell a hilarious and heartfelt story of how media representation gave her the courage and the purpose to follow her dream to become a writer. Throughout her story she talks about the way media representation of the stories of Asian-Americans made her feel less alone, and more understood, as a first-generation, Vietnamese-American teen.

Abi Leonard will tell the tale of how her white privilege suddenly disappeared after she converted to Islam, and started to wear the hijab. Suddenly, because of “this little piece of cloth,” total strangers, as well as people she knew, believed that Abi had completely changed races – gone from being a white French-Irish lady “who could get a sunburn on a cloudy day,” to being of Middle Eastern decent. Abi will paint a picture of how her family struggles with racism and prejudice here in Bloomington. She will also talk about how she has experience that racism is not always about race, but about the power to judge someone as “different,” and therefore “less than.”

Other stories explore race, racial identity, and racism, as experienced by the Latino, Hispanic, and Muslim communities.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased online at www.bctboxoffice.com.

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