Post-Event Reflections on “There is No Separate Survival” by Dillonna C. Lewis

This post was written by Contributing Author Dillonna C. Lewis, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Hunter College, CUNY, and a facilitator of the event.

In post-panel processing with students, an underlying theme emerged–the ongoing relevance and impact of Audre’s poems and prose for our current socio-political realities. Students reflected on the need for additional community “read-in” spaces at Hunter College where they can dialogue with peers, professors and other participants from the larger community.  Bringing Audre back to the community, and listening to the intergenerational interactions in break out groups, honored the power of poetry to speak to us all, to teach us all and to hold our complexities. In our small group conversations, we were able to lift up difference for conscious introspection and publicly name what sustains us in community and what divides us. One panelist shared her experiences with feeling dissected, probed and interrogated in White feminist circles where she was expected to speak for all Black women. The repetitive notion that academic spaces can only hold one brilliant Black woman at a time feeds this “under the microscope” phenomena that threatens current attempts to organize movement-building that defines and empowers. 

In addition, panelists shared how they were able to use the transformative grounding of their initial connection to Audre to be confident in their own right to be seen and heard.  This deeply strengthened their voice and political awareness to speak up against injustices.  When students connect with the agency of their own right to exist and speak, tolerance or acceptance of systemic injustices is more effectively disrupted.  The intimacy of the scrutiny, inspired by Audre’s poems and prose, becomes a mutually enhancing journey of change at the personal and political level.

To access the suggested readings (a few poems and short essays) from this participatory event, please click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *