On February 24th, 2021, at 3:30 pm, King’s Library Council (KLC) will be hosting a virtual coffeehouse with the target of raising Black voices. Their tagline? “Celebrate Black History Month with stories and poetry by Black authors!”
Both timely and empowering, the Raising Black Voices coffeehouse is a perfect opportunity to connect with young students who have a strong sense of justice. If you’re unsure of whether to attend, fear not! I interviewed grade 11 student, Almira Kagzi, vice-president of KLC, to shed some light on the event.
For people who haven’t attended a coffeehouse before, can you explain what it will be like (itinerary, general ambiance, etc.)?
A: The coffeehouse is a place of sharing poetry, spoken word, stories, and just literature across the board! We tend to have a theme with each coffeehouse, just like how our theme this time is raising Black voices. When this event was hosted in school, we used to give out food and drinks, as well as some prizes at the end. We have been handing out prizes during some of our virtual events, but they’ve been modified to be shared safely with students. It may sound a little bit boring, because… English, but it really is a blast! We get to hear talented speakers and see all of their work firsthand!
Personally, what has been your favourite part of experiencing coffeehouses at King?
A: Since COVID-19 began, it’s been difficult finding ways to connect with friends and other students in school, especially students who chose to be virtual. When the event was hosted in school, we generally had about 30-40 people come, so whenever we ended up getting over 60 people in our first virtual coffeehouse, you could definitely see how shocked and happy I was! Seeing all of those people made me feel connected again and gave me many fresh new faces to see. Hopefully when things get better, I’ll be able to see some of them in person!
What has the feedback and engagement been like from students in past coffeehouses?
A: We try to make our coffeehouses as comfortable as possible, creating a safe space for people to showcase their abilities and really speak on what they feel. I’ve been going to these events for almost 3 years now and I still get blown away by some of the performances. It’s also a great place to let out some steam and really take a breather from everything going on. During the times we have right now, a fun distraction is definitely nice.
Lastly, why does KLC believe that it is important to raise black voices in the field of writing/story-telling especially?
A: Writing and story-telling is just one of the many ways to continue raising awareness about the many issues that Black people face. When including Black voices, people get to hear their personal experiences and identify, without any biases or stereotypes. They have the ability to tackle complex issues with both awareness and authenticity. When you hear a piece written by a Black artist, you not only hear the words, but the emotions within them. That’s how beautiful and powerful literature is. Although Black History Month is an extremely important month, Black Lives Matters is a continuing struggle. This is exactly why black voices need to be heard and understood.
So, what are you waiting for? Sign up to attend through KLC’s Instagram page: @rhkinglibrary!