Terrance Hayes discusses Social Justice for Black Lives

Terrance Hayes
Terrance Hayes Alyssa Brown / The Watchdog

On Thursday, April 20, Bellevue College hosted an event for the Social Justice for Black Lives plan in the hopes of bringing awareness to students about black oppression.

Social Justice for Black Lives has been a year-long initiative prompted by BC faculty and students. “A group of us faculty have been working on this Social Justice for Black Lives initiative this year, we’ve actually had a number of events,” said Nan Ma, a faculty member and co-coordinator of the functions.

“I think this [event] is especially relevant after this presidential election. Because there was such a rhetoric of hate that got spread in the last election. So many people on this campus don’t feel safe and that shouldn’t be happening. I think that’s one of the reasons we felt it was important to do this especially now.” explained Ma.

“Making social justice for black lives makes social justice for all marginalized groups,” said Leslie Lum, another faculty member and coordinator of the events.
Poet Terrance Hayes held a moderated interview in the Carlson Theatre as one of the Social Justice events where Nan Ma and another event coordinator asked him questions submitted by BC students.

Hayes is the author of many books, including “Lighthead” and “Wind in a Box.” Some of his other achievements include being the winner of the 2010 National Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The MacArthur Foundation and Fellowship Program describes Hayes as “a poet who reflects on race, gender, and family in works marked by formal dexterity and a reverence for history and the artistry of crafting verse.”

“Something that seems to be different about [Hayes] is that despite his international presence he’ll agree to come to high schools and colleges and talk to students,” said Lum. “There are so many layers and so much context to his poems. He’s going to open up a whole new world of social justice for us. This can transform us. We can learn how to talk to and understand each other from his words. We should all come together and experience what he has to offer us and figure out how to use that to understand each other.”

In the interview, the moderators prompted Hayes with questions from the student body such as “Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?” and “What’s your favorite song off the new Kendrick Lamar album?” along with other questions focusing on his writing technique and how other areas of his life influence his poetry.