By Jay Roberson
Staceyann Chin opened up “An Evening with Staceyann Chin’’ on Oct. 27 with the discussion of why she labeled herself a Black lesbian. Chin discussed that she believes labels are an important part of her identity, but it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone.
From the beginning of her speech, which took place in the Rue Auditorium, she talked about her career as a poet, actor, writer and performing artist. She was a speaker to remember as the audience roared in laughter and paid close attention to her speech.
In an interview with The Rider News, freshman psychology major Jada Waddel and junior cyber security major Daniel Cilone discussed back and forth between their favorite parts.
“I was not expecting it to be that funny. … It was so powerful,” Cilone said.
On Chin’s official website, it states she is, “A Caribbean, Black, Asian, lesbian woman and a resident of New York City, as well as a Jamaican national” in her biography.
When asked about the importance of events like hers on campus, Chin responded, “I think it’s important for us to look at each other, and I think the most important thing tonight was the intergenerational conversation,” she said. “I work very hard to talk to young people about who they are and validate the difference.”
Throughout her speech, Chin brought up the fact that struggles fade with age, citing her own personal experience. Chin emphasized that the first 20 years of her life were generally bad, but every year since then has been getting better.
She was also very honest about her upbringing and struggles throughout her life as both a lesbian and a person of color. Many students took a liking to her unfiltered presentation.
Freshman health science major Arleny Paulino spoke about her appreciation for the presenter.
“Having someone that has the same internal conflicts as you and going into the mind of someone like me,” said Paulino. “Now you can see you can make it that far. And you’re not excluded in any way.”
Waddel said, “There’s so much adversity that a young queer person faces, to where they need that open and older person to see that they can overcome. To see that they can live beautifully; unapologetically themselves.”
Many audience members could relate to Chin’s message of how she’s faced discrimination not only for her race but also for her sexuality. It was impactful for many audience members to see a presenter who was real about their struggles and true identity.
The director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) Pamela Pruitt spoke about how events with diverse speakers help support the overall well being of the Rider community.
“Rider benefits when its community members feel like they belong and are valued at Rider. Having events that relate to different identities reinforces and fosters a sense of belonging,” Pruitt said in an interview with The Rider News.
Chin seemed to have delivered the message she wanted to convey to the audience through her authenticity and spontaneity.
“I think that the more we see each other, the more we can see ourselves reflected in the world around us,” Chin said. “The more of who we are is affirmed, validated and celebrated.”
Originally printed in the 11/2/22 issue.