YKB: An act of resistance

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 9:11pm

Lorraine Furtado, Chandani Wiersba and Arwa Gayar

Lorraine Furtado, Chandani Wiersba and Arwa Gayar Buy this photo
Sam So/Daily

The copper seats of Rackham Auditorium shone in the yellow stage light, engulfing the room in a warm glow. As the actors ascended the stage in unison, each step with audible purpose and strength, their voices rang out through the auditorium with power and resilience. With the last line spoken and heads held high, complexions of brown flickered in the light — a warm reminder of the unity in the room. This is what resistance looked like March 13 at the Yoni Ki Baat monologue show.

Founded in 2006, YKB began as a platform for women of color to boldly share their truth through self-expression.  Though initially focused on challenging stereotypes plaguing South Asian women, YKB has since opened to all women of color to highlight experiences ignored in predominantly white feminist spaces. Discussing topics of culture, activism, mental health, sexuality and more, YKB is a dynamic space that aims to address and eliminate oppressive forces on campus and beyond.

Resistance is more than the chosen theme of this year; it is fundamental to the type of social justice that YKB uplifts. Central to the mission of YKB is social justice and activism. Vice President Akanksha Sahay, an LSA senior, who has been involved in YKB for 5 years, credits YKB as a core part of her self-growth and learning in social justice.

“It’s given me a lot of patience to listen more, and at the same time be less afraid to be heard or to stand my ground to make sure that I am heard,” she said.

Commenting on her own performance, Sahay reflects on “Two truths and a lie,” an anonymous piece that discusses themes of sexual assault, shame and consent. She connects the #MeToo phenomenon, a viral movement focused on providing healing for survivors and bringing conversations about sexual assault, to the forefront. Even though the piece is not her own, it is a narrative that countless survivors can connect to, either through personal experience or empathy.

Core to the uniqueness of YKB is how it uses narratives to connect women through shared experiences and social justice. On campus, YKB serves to highlight coalitions of communities of color, their shared plights and their shared solutions.

“It’s a very unique space because I don’t think any other place quite exists to serve that particular set of identities with being a woman and not white. It was cool to see all that we had in common and to see all of the differences and to still relate to the roots of those issues,” Sahay said.

An important element of social justice is coalition-building, and YKB highlights the need for deep and meaningful relationships that can only come from storytelling and vulnerability. The space provides support, healing and confidence to women seeking to share their stories. With these pieces, both the audience and the performers hold within them these narratives, keeping them not only for their own reflection, but to share with others.

“If any piece connects to even one person, it’s worked,” Sahay said.

In addition to their annual monologue show, YKB hosts events such as open mics and dialogues throughout the school year aimed at increasing inclusivity and fellowship amongst women of color.

Anyone interested in getting involved with YKB can contact ykb.board@umich.edu.