Yunika and Edward Jackson

#2: Yunika & Edward

Yunika and Edward Jackson recorded their conversation during the African American Read-In at IU Bloomington's Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center on February 5, 2018.

Description of the video:

What's so special about the African American Read-In, it's a good connection to connect with other young folks. And some of the stuff they say, it also connects with older people, so I think it's just a real special event for all cultures to come out and say what they have to say. And it's just a really nice bonding moment to be with other people from other schools, also. And so that's why I think it's so special.
I think you're right, Edward. I believe when this started, it was a chance to give African American children a voice and to really appreciate their culture and their history. So many times, we talk about the downside of it, but this is a chance to make a positive of it. Even if they're speaking about the negativity that happens in the world and to their life, if they're able to get it out in a positive way, it's just beautiful to see. I work for the Department of Child Services, and many times, our children in poverty don't have this opportunity to have a voice, so I'm really grateful for this event that takes place once a year. And I was able to arrange my schedule so I can be here. I always get snippets, what the children record, but this time, I'm actually going to be able to sit in and listen to the read-in and even I'm going to stay for the panel. I think it's going to be really exciting. I'm excited for my first time to be here, and we even got here two hours early. I just love it every year just to get a chance to spectate. And hopefully next year, my senior year, I'll get to say something, read something.
I just remember the first couple read-ins and just being blown away by the talent that is present here in Bloomington. And the pride of culture that is present here in Bloomington, which, you know, it's kind of hard because we are such a tossed salad here in Bloomington. We are not a melting pot. We're such a tossed salad, that blends somewhat well. But I never would have known the talent that was in this place. 
And then to come together, you'd never know, like usually they're quiet at school, or they have a totally different personality at school, and you get to see that personality, that talent that they have, whether it's singing, poetry, spoken word. It doesn't matter what it is, it's just really amazing. Really shocking, gives me goosebumps. The messages that they, that click in, since we're African Americans, we connect to them in such a way, so I already know that I'm going to have a great time. 
These children, they are experiencing the world in a totally different manner than I experienced it at their age. And so just to stay in tune with their feelings and what is going on, so everything that just comes out with a cuss word or sounds a little angry, I appreciate that, because that's just relief that these children are getting out and that they need to get out in a positive manner. 
This is like a time of need where we need to come together and you know, need to collaborate, and words and thoughts need to be spoken. You know, you got to get your word out there somehow. And that's why I love this program, because this is one of the places where you can.
I actually came to IU in 1992 to go to school, with the help of faculty members like Dr. Stephanie Power-Carter, like Dr. Valerie Grimm, like Dr. Fred McElroy, like Dr. Vernon Williams and the late, great Dr. William Wiggins, who grabbed ahold of me as a African American young woman who was starting off her life. And they grabbed ahold of me to point me in the right directions, not only through class, but even through life experiences. So I'm very grateful to Indiana University for having people like that, who actually really care and not just to hear their own voice speaking in the classroom but to actually care and to dig deep into who you are and to help you cultivate who you want to be. I say all that to say, is that, over the last four years, if it wasn't for Indiana University, I would not be the family case manager I am. I am proud to say that, when I open up cases, I don't lose those cases, because I actually know that I have engaged these people to the best of my ability, that I have really turned over every stone. And that's what these professors did here at IU. I just really wish that this would expand and not only go for Black History Month. But they would have different read-ins for many different things, because it just opens so many eyes, not only through the poetry, but through the music, just through the culture. It makes me proud to be African American. So I can put on my hat. I can put on my earrings. And I can keep my hair natural. And I can be proud to say I am an African American woman. I'm black.

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