African American Read-In returns

Jayline Quintana, Contributing Writer

Students, staff and faculty gathered to celebrate Black poetry, and to participate in an open conversation during the return of the annual Dallas College Brookhaven Campus African-American Read-In. Up until the February 2020 Read-In, the event was hosted in the Performance Hall in C Building. The event returned this year for the first time since 2020 and was held in the S Building Lobby near the Information Desk on Feb. 13.

Sean Guinyard, Brookhaven Campus multicultural affairs coordinator, hosted and planned the event, made introductions, and gave a quick overview of the event and guest speaker, before turning the floor over to local poet and creative, Tro’juan Henderson.

Henderson, a Dallas College Cedar Valley Campus alumnus, went viral in 2017, while working as a Lyft driver, for his response after refusing to take an intoxicated woman home and bring her into her apartment. In the video, Henderson said he denied the request, and offered to instead drive the woman and her friends home together.

The women declined, and Henderson ended the video advocating for people to take care of their vulnerable friends. Today, Henderson works as a mentor, leads creative workshops and helps organize events for BlackLit, a local bookstore focused on Black literature.

Henderson has participated in Dallas College Read-Ins before, and enjoys both performing for and watching the events. “It takes you back to the elementary stage of loving something,” Henderson said. He said he hopes the event introduces more modern day poets and styles to students.

This year’s read-in provided a more intimate conversational experience, with Henderson sharing his personal anecdotes behind each of the four pieces he performed, and opening up the floor to questions and comments from the audience.

Henderson’s first piece, a critique on modern day hip-hop, ignited a compelling conversation on misogyny and toxic masculinity, as Henderson and audience members discussed the impact certain lyrics like “put molly all in her Champagne she ain’t even know it,” from American rapper Rick Ross’s “U.O.E.N.O.” has on young teens.

Henderson’s second piece touched on identity, sparking strong snaps and nods of approval from audience members. Henderson discussed how the struggles Black Americans go through negatively impact young Black children.

Henderson’s third piece, an ode to Black women’s struggles, evoked even more snaps and nods.

Henderson’s final piece focused on his complicated relationship with his mother. Henderson’s story encouraged audience members to share about their own relationships with their parents. “I loved when everybody started sharing stories,” Yohannes Beckle, a Dallas College student, said. “This event is important because it helps people relate to each other and learn new things.”

Guinyard said Dallas College hopes to bring awareness to the importance of Black History Month and things deeply rooted in Black Art. He hopes more students and staff participate next year. “Keep an eye out for the Read-In posters around campus,” Guinyard said. Henderson hopes the event will encourage more students to find a healthy outlet in writing.