Perspectives show invites students to embrace diverse experiences

The Unity Gospel Choir International sings “My Name is Victory” at Perspectives. The choir also sang “Healed” and “This is Me” at the event. (Emily May)

BYU’s Multicultural Student Services hosted Perspectives on Friday, Feb. 16, exhibiting diverse cultural traditions and encouraging attendees to cultivate a deeper understanding of their shared humanity.

The theme for the event, “Cultural Odyssey: Journeying Through Our Shared Narratives,” welcomed individuals and communities to discover and celebrate their shared heritage, according to Multicultural Student Services. The event featured performances by the Unity Gospel Choir International, the BYU Capoeira Club and the BYU Hip Hop Club and presented two of the winning works from the 2024 MLK Student Contest.

The Unity Gospel Choir International sang “Healed.” A member of the choir expressed her hopes that the audience could feel healed as they listen. (Emily May)

Layla Young, a student employee at Multicultural Student Services who later sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow” at the event, welcomed attendees by acknowledging they come from diverse perspectives, walks of life and backgrounds.

“We would like to present some important events in Black history tonight, and even if they make people uncomfortable, these events have shaped our perspectives, and we hope they will have an impact on you,” Young said. “We must tackle our challenges and disputes head on if we ever want to make a real change in our country.”

Young also promised attendees devoting time to learning someone else’s perspective could leave them uplifted.

George Summerill, another student employee at Multicultural Student Services, reiterated some of Ryan Gabriel’s devotional from April 6, 2021.

“Expanding our understanding of the suffering of others can awaken charity within us,” Gabriel said. “Our hearts can connect in solidarity over our shared experience of striving for life and to ‘have it more abundantly.’”

The BYU Capoeira Club displayed capoeira at the event. Capoeira originated in Brazil and combines martial arts, dance, and gymnastics. (Emily May)

The Unity Gospel Choir International first performed “Healed.”

“I don’t know that there’s anybody in this room who hasn’t had a challenge or a trial or disappointments,” a member of the choir said to introduce the performance. “It doesn’t matter your background, where you’re from, your family, whatever, everybody has them. But we also all have a chance to be healed whenever we do have those through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Ashlyn Perez presented Myah Cruz’s original poem, “I Know,” which won third place in the 2024 MLK Student Contest.

Perez read from Cruz’s poem, “Know that by following His example, you can recognize issues and promote change where you are able and I can soften my heart toward people and systems that have been trained to work against me.”

The BYU Hip Hop Club performed a hip hop routine. Hip hop is a dance style that emerged from a predominantly African American area of the Bronx in the 1970s. (Emily May)

The BYU Capoeira Club and the BYU Hip Hop Club each displayed their dance styles. The club’s Instagram explains capoeira is a form of Brazilian martial arts developed by enslaved Africans as a means to resist oppression. Hip-hop originated in the 1970s in a predominantly African American area of the Bronx in New York City, according to Britannica.

Various video presentations were also interspersed within the program. One of these videos featured Lita Little Giddins, the Associate Vice President of Belonging at BYU, as she discussed her struggles growing up with her skin color and how her fears towards her skin faded when she turned to the light of Christ.

“I choose to believe that my skin has the very unique capability to absorb the light of Christ, giving me energy and warmth that impacts and influences not only my life but the life of others along the way,” Giddins said. “Because the light of Christ is in and through all things, light and truth is embedded in this skin — my dark skin — regardless of how it has been and is negatively perceived in society.”

This video by Lita Little Giddins was shown at the event. Perspectives is a BYU event meant to showcase diverse perspectives and celebrate different cultures. (Y Magazine)

Joanna Hildreth presented her original essay, “Faith in the Future,” which won second place in the 2024 MLK Student Contest.

“Dr. King taught that, upon facing injustice, we cannot let our misery be the end of it — we must have enough faith to propel us into action within the community,” Hildreth read. “When confronted with racism and other forms of discrimination, one can choose to stay complacent and let the pattern continue, or one can, as Dr. King said, ‘realize that the problem will not just work itself out. We have the responsibility of helping to work it out.’”

The Unity Gospel Choir International also offered two more choral performances, singing “This is Me” from the movie “The Greatest Showman,” and “My Name is Victory.”

“Our foundation of Jesus Christ can help us to be victorious over anything that we experience in this life,” a member of the choir said while introducing “My Name is Victory.”

The original poem and essay by the winners of the MLK Student Contest, Myah Cruz and Joanna Hildreth, can be found on the BYU Africana Studies website.

“Perspectives” drew a crowd to the Wilkinson Center Ballroom. The audience stood up and danced for the Unity Gospel Choir International’s performance of “My Name is Victory.” (Emily May)
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