Alcindor ’10 Addresses Fellow Graduates in Verse

Latasha Alcindor '10 delivered the Senior Class Welcome. (Photo by Nick Russell '09)

Latasha Alcindor ’10, delivered the following Senior Class Welcome at Wesleyan’s 178th Commencement Ceremonies on May 23, 2010:

Today is the first day of my presentation.
Today is the first day of your presentation.
Today is the first day of our presentation.
We have left tears throughout this campus.
Thinking that we made it, thinking this was it.
But this red gown does not mean I am complete,
These papers that you will receive does not mean we are finished.
These jobs you will start do not mean we are finished.
There is something that needs to be left, there is something open.
The examination has just begun.

This, right here, is an attemption at redemption to go back to the Vanguard Scenes.
Standing on this pedestal, is my takeover in remembrance of Fisk Takeover,
We here are bringing back unity into our regime,
I want Wesleyan to give you a token of my appreciation, without being a token, Wesleyan, we want to give Wesleyan a token of our appreciation, without being tokens.

Because we are not just queer, we are not just straight, we are not just black, we are not just white, we are not just checks in a quota that would make a quarter of our population right. We are beyond that.

And although we are still young,
we see the pains of those who were forgotten.
Port Au Prince, Chicago, home
We hear the violence of those who were silenced
Darfur, New Orleans, Johanna
And we see the injustice
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Arizona.

But even stuck in this perfect bubble, we tried to avoid crying over the troubles.
But we know there is a war going outside and it’s beyond peoples, and what we must take with these diplomas is an activation of a new weaponry to take knowledge, a bravery to honestly make what they call humanity more equal.

This is not about you or me, this whole thing we did called learning is about changing the world that we see and telling the truth of the world’s lies.

I can never take for granted this privilege I was granted because Wesleyan, you have given me a new set of eyes.

Now I can see my mother’s and father’s regrets as a defense to never second guess myself and these professors like Eudell and supporters like Melendez as a causation of why I can never neglect ourselves. And I see the stories of the freshman to the senior class as glories so we may never exempt ourselves.

We are the dream they were dreaming. We are the hope that was once unseen seeing.
So there is no way I am leaving this pedestal with you believing that this is over.

This is the first day of my presentation to prove against all the negations in a demonstration that I am the little Brooklyn Black/Latino girl, who grew up, moved up, and flew up, to drop their worlds on their heads.

This is a presentation to prove against the negations through a demonstration of your individuality and show the truth of where your heart has led.

This is the first day of our presentation to prove against all negations that have said this generation and future generations are better left for dead.

We did this. And we are doing this.

I did this for a young single mother who saw me as her chance. You do this for those who loved you. We do this for ourselves, but we do this for each other.

This is the first day of our presentation, and it also a day to say, “Congratulations. You made it,” but just know this is not just it.

The test is far from over.