Arts & Entertainment

Upcoming Black History Month Poetry & Market will highlight Black voices

This UWT event aims to shed light on Black history and experiences through poetry, music and artwork.

For Black History Month, many are choosing to highlight black artists and creators who have made significant change for their community. Nicole Jordan, the Director of Cross-Cultural Engagement at the Office of Equity and Inclusion, is making a space where people in the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community can share their experiences amongst others. Ujima Building the Nest: Black History Month Poetry & Market, taking place February 29 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., aims to bring together a group of diverse and impactful people that celebrate and reflect Black history and community.  

“This was a big community effort to bring together people from different walks of life who all contribute to our local community,” said Jordan. “There are so many black creators who have uplifted others through song, poetry and craftsmanship. They each have a story to tell and help spark a deep conversation about black voices and their significance in Tacoma.” 

As the event leader, Jordan helped form the idea with another colleague of hers to do something special for Black History Month. What initially began as a small idea slowly blossomed into a movement of people who were inspired to do something special. With help from a colleague of hers at the Center of Student Involvement (CSI), the Student Body Government (SAB) and members of the Identity and Culture Department at UWT, Jordan was able to form a project that reached several platforms of engagement.  

“It was initially just about poetry,” said Jordan. “But then once people like Revathi Chintapalli of the Identity and Culture Department at UWT reached out and SAB, I felt like we were looking at a much bigger project, one that could include music, art, culture. Instead of just having artists come and show off their work, we are giving them the opportunity to sell their artwork at this event. In addition, we now have a live jazz band that will perform, which adds so much diversity to this event for students.” 

A native of Tacoma, Jordan has always been passionate about issues surrounding diversity and cross-cultural connection. She went to local schools and was very involved in youth development and engagement for as long as she can remember. She got a bachelor’s in social work and then earned a master’s in public administration. She came to UWT because she believes in the school’s mission.  

“I believe in serving Tacoma communities specifically marginalized folks to find a home and thrive,” said Jordan. “No matter what, I’ve always felt that way. I’m all about centering the human and helping them achieve their dreams, whether it’s student engagement or support.”  

Her dream is to one day support BIPOC students who study abroad, because so many face several underlying structural issues such as racism. The way they look can make them more of a target than someone who isn’t a person of color.  

Jordan works with others in her department who help to make UWT a thriving and supportive space for others, specifically marginalized communities. Previously, the Cross-Cultural Engagement program has put on events that help promote student engagement amongst people of color at the CEI office. They have had a summer social justice internship where students can help empower their own community and build a more equitable campus by partnering with local non-profit organizations. Right now, they offer students support and information regarding cross-cultural student engagement.  

The Black History Month Poetry and Market event is taking place February 29, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in William Philip Hall on the UWT campus. The poetry portion will take place 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. The event will feature keynote speaker Jamaar Smiley and live jazz from Lalarama. 

Flyer for the event, courtesy of Nicole Jordan.