By Julissa James
Editor in Chief
Toro poets, musicians and artists came together in the Loker Student Union’s Palm Courtyard Oct. 20 to share their stories of hardship, heartbreak and success on stage.
Advertised as a night of poetry, music and expression, the LSU-sponsored “Take the Mic” event was hosted by seasoned poet, artist and educator June M. Kaewsith, who goes by her stage name, “Jumakae.”
Jumakae offered encouragement and comic relief while sharing her work between performances. Many of her poems contained a common theme: the minority experience in America.
This theme is something the audience at CSUDH, where the minority is the majority, could identify with. More than half of campus is Asian, African-American or Latino.
In a time where people of color are demanding that injustices against them be recognized, Jumakae believes poetry and performance are healthy outlets for expression.
“In this moment in time especially, it’s a beautiful opportunity to find ways to channel our anger into radical love,” Jumakae said. “Through poetry, when you put your story out for others to hear, after you’ve taken that time to meditate with it on your own, it becomes less about one individual but as an emotion that all of us bearing witness can relate to.”
“Take the Mic” attracted mainly performers, who doubled as audience members, when their time on the stage came to an end. Although the event didn’t bring in a large crowd, those who attended were appreciative and supportive of those on stage.
Due to what she describes as a lack of student life on campus, Marilyn Palacios, vice president of FLOW, the poetry club, said she was pleasantly surprised by the open mic night flier.
In an interview with The Bulletin a few weeks back, LSU Director Cecilia Ortiz emphasized the importance of student feedback for the LSU when trying to create an environment and schedule of events tailored to student wants and needs. That feedback goes into planning events like “Take the Mic.”
The LSU, she explained, attempts to make CSUDH more than a commuter campus through community-building events.
For the performers of CSUDH, this open-mic night was a place to merge their creative and academic worlds.
“In general, people need a safe place to express themselves,” Jumakae said, “especially at an academic institution. Grades are not the determining factor of someone’s creativity.”