City College students’ stories an act of social justice at VAMP

Seven selected to read and perform original works

Devan Watson at VAMP

Devan Watson presents her original work “Wake Up” at San Diego City College VAMP. Zoom screenshot

Kathryn Gray, Multimedia Journalist

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected for spelling. The original version of this article misspelled Willie as Willis. City Times regrets the error. 

Gimi Willie recounted the experience of not knowing how to say goodbye to her dying mother.

“Now I think that last words are like funeral flowers,” said Willie, reading from a piece called “Last Words Don’t Mean Shit.” “If we don’t say them when they deserve to be said and wait until the end, you can’t do anything with them but sadly watch them wilt and crumble into nothing.

“It’s the first words and the middle words that mean everything.”

Willie was one of seven San Diego City College students chosen from a pool of 50 to perform original written works centered on the theme, “Wake Up!”

The readings were part of Visual Audio Monologue Performance, also known as VAMP.

The March 25 event was sponsored by City College’s City Voices and local community arts organization So Say We All as part of the sixth annual City Social Justice and Education Conference.

The seven students chosen for VAMP attended workshops and had the opportunity to work with writing and performance coaches prior to the event.

The student performances transported audience members to distant places like Japan, Guam, and the Pacific Northwest, while also covering sensitive topics such as death, racism, immigration and illness.

In her performance, Devan Watson beautifully contrasted the rural landscape of her childhood Missouri home with the hideous racism she experienced there.

She recounted a ride to elementary school with her father and younger brother that resulted in a life-changing encounter with police and her father being detained without cause.

“The way (the police officer) was talking to my dad sounded just like Cinderella’s stepmother talking to her,” Watson said. “It was as if he was disgusted at the mere fact my dad existed.”

Audience members were actively engaged in the discussion throughout the event, which was shown on Twitch. The performances can currently be viewed on YouTube or Twitch.