Standing up for what’s right (human rights!)

Emma Esteb – Staff Writer

The last Lyrical Café of the semester is an exciting opportunity to make some noise, speak out about injustices, and have your voice be heard. The Lyrical Café is happening at 6:30 PM on December 10 at the Dive. The Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE) has been hosting this event monthly since February 2021.
The goal of the CIE is “to connect students with educational programming, campus events/activities, and resources that will help students dig deeper into the terms: culture, diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, identity, and intersectionality” according to the Gustavus website. The Lyrical Café encompasses this motto and goal as it encourages students to use different forms of expression such as poetry, singing, dancing, hip-hop, and rap to tackle issues including social justice, diversity, and this month’s theme, human rights. Assistant Director of the CIE Kareem Watts said he “meets with the students in order to get a better understanding of what is going on in the community in order for him to pick a topic for the Lyrical Café.”
The theme for this month is “Human Rights,” in honor of Human Rights Day, which is observed by the international community every year on Dec 10. The date was chosen to “honor the United General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which happened on Dec 10, 1948,” Watts said.

With all of the injustice in our world, the theme of human rights perfectly encompasses the inclusivity of all people and recognizes all marginalized identities.

This Lyrical Café will have some special guests that will be performing at the event. Joe Davis (@joedavispoetry), a nationally-touring artist, educator, and speaker based in Minneapolis, MN will be at this event along with singer from MN, Imani Waters (@imaniwaters.music). Alongside them will be Gustavus’ own, Kareem Watts otherwise known as Kareem Elevated (@kareemelevated).
One of Watts’ favorite Lyrical Cafés was the Sept 24 event with the theme for this Lyrical Café being Hispanic Heritage Month: Celebrating the History & Culture of the Hispanic and Latinx Community. At this event Watts performed and dropped his new single, “Ride with Me.” Watts said his music encompasses his “experiences, faith, and his life growing up in Los Angeles, CA.”
Watts is proud of the conversations that have risen out of the Lyrical Cafés. He believes that they are a place for students to “heal, express themselves, and have an outlet.” These Lyrical Cafés provide an opportunity for Bipoc students to feel welcomed on campus and use their skills.

The theme of human rights emphasizes the injustice that is present in our everyday lives. Watts said that it is “so easy to get caught up in American issues that we forget that the rest of the world is suffering, as well,”

He used the examples of Dante Wright and the murders in Ethiopia.
Human rights encompasses international human rights and Watts wants to emphasize that idea through this last Lyrical Café of the semester. These events have been a hit since last spring and Watts is hopeful that this one will be just as successful. These events are often described as a healing and therapeutic experience for marginalized students of Gustavus.
The Lyrical Cafés hosted by the CIE help provide unity, create relationships, and help students meet others that are like them. These events help strengthen the community and make all individuals feel welcomed, loved, and included. Students at these events feel appreciated and comfortable to share personal stories, struggles, and pain that they are experiencing.
The Oct 29 Lyrical Café focused on mental health resilience with Oct being the domestic violence awareness month. This was one of Watts’ favorite Lyrical Cafés as he “felt honored that students were willing to share and express their experiences with mental and physical abuse.” The safe space that has been created by the CIE is empowering to the Gustavus community as students continue to come together and find their place here on campus.
The goals of the CIE have definitely been met this semester and can perfectly ring out the year with this last Lyrical Café of first semester. Make some noise, stand up, and empower others this Friday at the Lyrical Café.

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