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October 19, 2022: Freedom Songs and Power & Privilege Symposium

Two major student-led programs that contribute to DEIA at Whitman are currently in development. Near the end of fall semester, the Freedom Songs program will provide an evening of cultural expression and celebration. In the spring semester, our collective attention will turn to the annual Power & Privilege Symposium. Both programs provide opportunities for involvement and participation. 

Freedom Songs, scheduled for December 10 at the Harper Joy Theatre, is currently looking for performers. Folks can sign up for auditions online and they can contact student organizers Marina Balasanyan or Emmanuel Sakala with any questions. Additional information about Freedom Songs and this year’s theme can be found below. 

The Power & Privilege Symposium is scheduled for February 23. The symposium is designed to make space for conversations about structural oppression, how they manifest themselves on the Whitman campus and beyond, including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, ableism, capitalism, etc. The community unites to support the lectures, panels, discussions, and showcases created by our peers. The symposium strives to educate the community about the power structures prevailing around the world, questioning many of the paradigms which have socialized us. Our mission as a planning team is to create an environment that interrogates hard questions along with the relationships and structures of power and privilege. The symposium is a house for resources—beginnings of questions and further investment in social justice.

Our goal this year is to involve more of the Whitman community (students, faculty and staff) in the making of the Power & Privilege Symposium. To that end, we are asking folks to submit suggestions for this year’s theme. If you have an idea for a theme, please share it with the symposium organizers

Freedom Songs is a program created and organized by students in 2016, that specifically looks at uplifting various forms of music and art to recognize the differences in our society. It consists of three parts; the Freedom Songs Concert, the Freedom Zine, and the Reflection Party. The program is specifically a racial justice event, in which we look at issues of race, privilege, and different forms of oppression that come alongside our differences in America. 

The Freedom Songs theme for this year is Freedom Sings: The Art Is Our Resistance. When our voices unite, it can be a painful cry, a parade chant, or a triumphant anthem. We sing our wounds, our victories, our love, and our rage. Our song, almost like a wave, crashes every obstacle on its way to clear the ground for new foundations. Our song, almost like a bright sun ray, gets through the darkness on the dullest of days. Our songs bring hope, the seeds of freedom, for the empty soil we fought for. 

2022 has been so full of events in the world that need to be talked about (actually, screamed at the top of the lungs). We are living in a time when people and nations are fighting for their peace, justice, and security. We have witnessed in so many ways how all those fighters show their strength and resistance. One of those ways—is art. The ability to project all the pain and suffering through artistry is the greatest superpower of all. Freedom sings through our art and our voices. This is our resistance and the theme of Freedom Songs 2022!

The Freedom Songs Concert focuses on music, dance, and other types of performances that are important to the performer’s culture. This event often features a selection of songs by artists of color and deals with issues of race, privilege, and different forms of oppression. Our goal with this event is threefold:

  1. To expand diversity in the music that is performed and heard on campus.
  2. To exchange perspectives, bring people together with music, and start conversations about these topics beyond symposiums and classroom discussions.
  3. To empower communities by creating a space that expresses the experience of marginalized identities on campus and in our society.

Power & Privilege Symposium content submitted by Grace Kim ‘23 and Pepe Pattrakulchai ‘25
Freedom Songs content submitted by Marina Balasanyan ‘24 and Emmanuel Sakala ‘25

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