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ISSUE 121 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/7/2008

Women silenced no more

By Sagirah Shahid
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 7, 2008

With the room dimly lit, St. Olaf students and faculty were held captive by the women performing in the "Loudest Form of Silence" last Thursday evening. As the final Black History Month event hosted by the Cultural Union for Black Expression this year, the "Loudest Form of Silence" was both an entertaining as well as an informative event. The event consisted of performances by several female St. Olaf students from various ethnic backgrounds describing what being a woman of color means to them. Through song, plays, dance and poetry, these women were able to impress their audience with their honesty and creativity. "It was a really touching and inspiring event," attendee Kyla Riley '11 said.

Sharon Sanders '07, founder of the "Loudest Form of Silence" said that the event originally began in collaboration with V-week. "They didn't have enough women of color represented in their events," Sanders recalled, and according to Sanders the organizers of V-week asked C.U.B.E. work with them to put together an event that allowed the voices of the women of color to be heard. As a result, the "Loudest Form of Silence" was created."

Sanders laughed when she described how she came up with the name for the event. As she remembers it, deciding on the "Loudest Form of Silence" was a split second decision. "The Pause was closing in five minutes and I was trying to reserve a room for the event with them," she said.

Since then, the "Loudest Form of Silence" has established itself as a venue through which women of color on campus are able to express themselves. "It really is necessary to have events like this," Laura Guzman '10 said. "It gives a chance for women's voices who are normally silenced to be heard. I wish everyone comes to things like this."

From the performance of a thrilling Indian dance to the reading of creative Hmong monologues, the women performers of The Loudest Form of Silence were able to raise awareness about issues such as stereotypes and cultural barriers, as well as express the pride and joy they felt in their own heritage.

One performer, Monica Martin '09, read a poem entitled "White Power," which creatively addressed the problems with stereotyping people by poking fun at some well-known stereotypes. "The poem was to make people think about how you treat or think about other people before judging them," Martin said.

The Loudest Form of Silence allowed women of all backgrounds and walks of life to express themselves and voice concerns that they would have otherwise kept to themselves. Daniel Plunkett '10, the vice president of C.U.B.E. and an organizer of The Loudest Form of Silence, expressed his admiration of the women who preformed for the event. "Most of the women performers were nervous or unsure that they could do well [beforehand], but you didn't see that when it came time for them to perform," he said.

Plunkett also commented on the progress the event has made since last year and some of the plans C.U.B.E. hopes to have for further progress in any future Loudest Form of Silence events. "Last year, one of the biggest problems we faced was zero Asian representation, which we have overcome this year," he said. "Next year we hope to further broaden the scope of multicultural women and their definition. We hope to have more women of mixed ethnicity and women from different religious backgrounds."

Although Daniel Plunkett and fellow members of C.U.B.E. have hopes to further improve the event, many students enjoyed the event as it was. "It definitely was one of the most powerful events I've been to during my time here at St. Olaf," Nick Espinosa '08 said.

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