We Are Living History hosts lively night market centering women of color

(Selena Lopez • The Student Life)

Live music, food and student vendors formed an intimate scene at the night market centering women of color, which was jointly held by the Pitzer College clubs We Are Living History (WALH) and Green Bike Program.

WALH is an affinity club for Black, Indigenous and women of color at Pitzer. The event took place at 7:30 pm on Nov. 19 at The Grove House, and featured performances from a Pitzer dance crew and 5C student musicians.

Samar Mann PZ ’22 organized the four-hour-long event in collaboration with other students from WALH from the 5Cs. 

“Being women of color, especially at the 5Cs and in Claremont, there’s not a lot of representation,” Mann said. “There’s not a lot of dialogue about what it is like to have this identity especially in this space and I don’t think that there’s a lot of opportunity given for POC, and especially women of color, to express themselves artistically. And so that’s really what we wanted this to be — an opportunity to bring together a community and raise awareness about our organization and have a community event where POC are centered.”

Ally Pardo PZ ’23 also worked to execute the event and helped cofound WALH in spring 2020 before campus life was cut short due to COVID-19.

“When we founded this group, we envisioned uniting the women of color across campus because I feel there’s a lot of cross-[campus] solidarity,” Pardo said. “Having this market today is really something that we wanted to host to showcase the art of BIWOC in this community and also open it to the larger BIWOC community at the 5Cs.”

Organizing a night market during COVID had its unique struggles, especially for upperclassmen who had been on campus for, at most, three semesters before quarantine. However, student organizations supported each other in navigating obstacles like club budget cuts and location changes to ensure safety. 

“I think it was really, really comforting to see how willing a lot of the affinity groups on campus are,” Mann said. “They were just incredibly supportive and… it was really easy to find co-sponsors and they would give us ideas and advice. It was like sharing wisdom among all these affinity groups to help us in what we were trying to do tonight.” 

Even during the event, organizers were on their feet coordinating each element. Moving behind the scenes, they let the stars of the night shine.

“That [women of color students] get this opportunity to showcase their art was something really, really, really fulfilling as an organizer,” Pardo said.

At one of the vendor booths, Marisa Branco PZ ’22 showcased zines she made featuring pictures of her great grandmother, blackout poetry from interview excerpts with her grandparents and documentation of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 against Spanish colonizers.

“I’ve been making zines and little books since high school, and it’s just a way I can write my own histories and put images and text in conversation,” Branco said. “I hope that my art helps to communicate the richness but also [the] subjectivity of indigenous resistance and stories.”

Other vendors sold homemade jewelry, including Milly Chi PZ ’22. Chi had only started to make jewelry several weeks before the event and spent the 48 hours before the event making an arrangement of earrings and other jewelry.

“I really like the simplicity of the wire, but I’m kind of a maximalist,” Chi said. “I like to make things more complicated. So I feel like that reflects in everything I make.”

Chi finds inspiration and materials for her creations through thrifting and combining other craft methods. Despite making beautiful earring pieces and donning a pair herself, she does not have pierced ears and instead wears clip-on earrings, often found from thrift shops.

“I really like thrifting, I really like things that are vintage, I really like found pieces,” Chi said. “I was first inspired to make my own earrings because I had an old pair of clip-on earrings that I got from Etsy. I was like, ‘How do I repurpose, make something new from them?’ I just have a lot of beads and vintage jewelry lying around. I was like, ‘Let me turn them into something that people will like.’”

Chi said she hopes her jewelry can serve as inspiration to others just as the process of creating them has pushed her beyond her lifestyle and fashion comfort zone, and encourages people to be more creative and feel free to dress out of the box more often.

“I’m really excited to be able to table at a woman of color-centric, student-led night market, because it makes me really excited to sell to specifically my woman of color friends and create a community among the women of color at Pitzer,” Chi said.

While WALH has bigger ambitions for mobilizating women of color on campus, the organizers hoped the night market would serve as a start.

“I just hope that BIWOC, who attend this event or hear about this event, know that there’s a space for them, and know that they have a community here on campus,” Mann said. “I also hope that people who come and see the art are maybe potentially inspired to pursue something of their own.”

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