Poet Christopher Soto discussed being a queer and Latinx punk poet, as well as a prison abolitionist, on campus Monday afternoon at the Where Queer Latinidad Confronts Police Violence event.
The LatinX Heritage Month planning committee organized this event as part of a month-long celebration.
About a dozen audience members gathered in the School of Social Work to hear Soto talk about his personal experiences, his philosophy and his creative works. He often involved the audience, asking them to read poems of other writers or asking for their reactions to topics.
Soto said he wanted the event to be a mixture of lecture, poetry reading and question and answer session.
“I do a lot of research for my creative writing so it only feels natural to complement the creative work with a bit of a conversation about the research I’ve done in order to produce that creative work,” he said.
Mark Chung Kwan Fan, assistant director of the Spectrum Center, helped organize the talk. He said the event aimed to bring higher visibility to a variety of identities.
“It’s important to talk about the issue of how to address police brutality towards people who have marginalized identities, of being LatinX, a person of color, but also being queer,” Fan said.
He added that because the event was part of LatinX Heritage Month, he hoped it brought awareness of intersectionality and of this specific community.
“We have a lot of events bringing awareness and visibility, but also sharing the culture of the LatinX community, so that’s part of it,” he said. “But like I said earlier, we also want to bring some multiple identities to these events.”
During the lecture, Soto emphasized his political philosophy on the police and the prison system, calling it a duality.
“A lot of my politic is combatting dualities, so combatting the duality of good/bad, these dualities are what incarcerates us and limits the possibilities of how we can exist,” he said.
He also described his approach to prison activism, which he said is varied and open to the belief that small actions can instigate change.
“Tying back to the idea that prison is no longer just a physical unit but a larger social structure, anything that relates to love and compassion and distribution of resources and transformative justice is the prison abolitionist work for me,” Soto said.
Irene Inatty, Ph.D. student in American Culture, said she appreciated the chance to broaden her perspective with new experiences she isn’t familiar with.
“I’m expecting to hear new dimensions and aspects of the LatinX community that I haven’t been terribly exposed to, mostly because it’s been sort of heteronormative,” she said. “It’s good to see the intersectional aspect and dimension.”