Humans of Hamden: Jamien Jean-Baptiste
By Beverly Wakiaga
“Why are you intimidated by what makes me unique? Why are you intimidated if English isn’t the language I speak?”
There were some tough stories to hear this past Monday at the Your Voice, Our Quinnipiac event and there were also some tough questions to answer.
The questions were posed by freshman Jamien Jean-Baptiste in his spoken word piece. This wasn’t something that he got up and thought of on the spot, Jean-Baptiste spent the weekend immersing himself in learning about movements like Black Lives Matter in order to better prepare himself. He mentions that he would not have spoken for the right reasons at the event if he had not spoken to Tatyana Youssef, the student government association's vice president for student experience.
“It enabled me to do a little research into the topic itself, step outside of my comfort zone and talk in front of an audience about something that people find uncomfortable,” Jean-Baptiste explained.
According to Jean-Baptiste he used rhyming to make it easier for people to follow what he was saying. Lines such as “power can provoke unity, power can uplift communities, power can dwindle the differences between you and me” accomplished Jean-Baptiste’s goal of portraying his subject matter in a unique and different angle than what most are used to.
“I feel that translating what we’re trying to do into different mediums like poetry or music, I feel like that can really hit people,” Jean-Baptiste said
Jean-Baptiste doesn’t just speak at SGA events, he is also a member of the organization as a representative for the class of 2021. The behavioral neuroscience major joined SGA because he wants to avoid being the student that complains but doesn’t do anything to change it.
“It’s a real privilege and it’s a real honor to just be able to make change,” Jean-Baptiste explained. “I really want to fight for the things that people want to change rather than just complaining about them.”
It has been less than two months since the new members took their position and the organization is already facing some difficulties, particularly after the same event Jean-Baptiste spoke at. After the general board meeting on October 25, some SGA members have pushed to begin the impeachment process of two members of the class of 2020 after questionable conduct at two different events. But this does not deter or waver Jean-Baptiste’s belief in the organization, in fact he "guarantees" that it will make history at Quinnipiac.
“I’m really happy I went to that voice series, and i’m really looking forward to attending more of those,” Jean-Baptiste said. “I really encourage that everyone try to make it to these events because it’s just so empowering and it made history because of what happened that night, and you could either be a part of that history or take an early nap. I really encourage everybody to come.”