Deepening the dialogue and hoping for a better tomorrow

by Kirsten Garcia, Wastewater Treatment Division

quenton4This is the start of a poem by Quenton Baker that he shared at one of last year’s Reflecting on Race and Racism events organized by an employee ESJ team. The poem, which is titled “Drip” and is dedicated to George Stinney, Jr., begins with a genial image – ice cream on a sunny day. But the story of George Stinney, Jr. is anything but genial. Stinney was a fourteen-year-old African-American boy wrongly accused of murdering two white girls in Alcolu, South Carolina in 1944. He was given ice cream while in an interrogation room where he made a coerced confession. After a two-hour trial and ten minutes of deliberation by an all-white jury, George Stinney, Jr. was declared guilty and given the death penalty. He is the youngest person to have been executed in the U.S. in modern times.

quenton2Quenton Baker is one of five literary artists from last year’s events returning for a follow-up series that intends to further and more candidly delve into the issues of racism and social justice. This first event in the 2017 series called Reflecting on Race and Racism: Deepening the Dialogue will also include literary artists Kiana Davis, Anis Gisele, Shin Yu Pai, and Djenanway Se-Gahon.

It will take place Tuesday, March 21 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the 8th floor conference room at King Street Center. To register visit the Eventbrite page.

Dr. Caprice Hollins, a dynamic facilitator with Cultures Connecting, will guide the discussion that will follow brief prose and poetry offerings from the literary artists. Dr. Hollins has over 20 years of experience researching, studying, and working with ethnically diverse populations. Of her work advocating for social justice, she says, “…while it is difficult beyond words, it is also rewarding beyond explanation – it is our hope for a better tomorrow.”

Join the deepening discussion on racism and social justice with these local literary artists:

quenton3Quenton Baker is a poet and educator from Seattle. His current work focus is the fact of blackness in American society. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Southern Maine and is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. He is a 2015-2016 Made at Hugo House fellow and recipient of the James W. Ray Venture Project award from Artist Trust. He is the author of This Glittering Republic (Willow Books, 2016).

Kiana Davis is the author of Digging for Roots and From These Roots Up. She was born and raised in Richmond, California. She began writing poetry at the age of twelve to grapple with growing up in a low-income community and to help her develop her identity as a young black girl in America. For the past ten years, she has worked as an educator teaching at-risk youth in Washington State.

Anis Gisele is a queer, immigrant (from Manila, Philippines) person of color who learned to value all her selves through spoken word. Her poetry draws together personal narrative, intergenerational pain, and identity politics. Her writing has been published in Salon, The Feminist Wire, and Black Girl Dangerous. She works as a writing coach for high school students with learning differences and volunteers as a creative writing instructor in the women’s prison.

Shin Yu Pai is the author of eight books of poetry. Her work has appeared in publications throughout the U.S., Japan, China, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and Canada. She has been a featured presenter at national and international literary festivals, including the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival. She was a Stranger Genius Nominee in Literature.

Djenanway Se-Gahon first performed a spoken word poem at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly at her high school. She now spends her time writing prose, poetry, and songs, and performs quarterly at the Santa Clara University talent shows hosted by the Black Student Union. She is collaborating with a professor on a grant to explore social justice in the U.S. penal system and to advocate for restorative rather than punitive justice.

If you have questions about this or future events for 2017, please contact Debra Ross. Other members of the project committee are Wastewater Treatment Division employees John Conway, Kirsten Garcia, De’Sean Quinn, Cathie Scott, Julia Yen, and Solid Waste Division employees Donna Miscolta and Rowena Johnson.