Sabrina Abdalla is a University of Utah alum and a poet/spoken word activist. Her start with poetry began in her sophomore year of high school where she had to write a poem for an assignment. Her teacher praised her writing and storytelling abilities. Fast forward to her senior year, she had to write another poem and had to perform in front of her class. Abdalla’s poem left her teacher and classmates astonished by how moving her words and storytelling were. From then on, she realized the power of words and continued writing poems more regularly.
Abdalla has been performing locally throughout her college career and has previously presented her work during the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration week. Knowing her powerful storytelling abilities, the Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) asked her to write a poem for the Your Voice Moves Us Forward campaign, which became the poem “We Matter.” The Your Voice Moves Us Forward campaign was developed to increase awareness about progress of the 13 initiatives the U issued in response to a campus dialogue on racial climate held in November 2015.
“My inspiration for the poem was rooted in the idea that many people assume that ‘you matter’ is a phrase that simply reassures us. Although it is, it is not confined to just empathy. It is realizing that we all take a part of creating change, and being impartial to issues makes us a part of the issue. I wrote this to show that, indeed we matter,” said Abdalla. “But how are you (the privileged) going to help? How are you going to utilize your resources to ensure change takes place?”
The Your Voice Moves Us Forward campaign has become a platform for continuous discussions around race and inequality on campus and in our communities. “This poem isn’t to be used as a representation of what the University thinks is diversity, rather to be seen as a chance to stand up for the marginalized communities. This poem is not the solution to racial climate, this represents the ongoing dialogue to come,” states Abdalla.
In addressing racial tensions and inequality, Abdalla hopes that in the effort of moving forward, the university takes an “educational approach such as engaging in educational conversations, panel discussions, and creating events with an end goal in mind.”
Abdalla graduated from the University of Utah this past spring semester in biology. She is currently living in New York pursuing a biology teaching career to high school students in underserved communities. Abdalla credits her passion for teaching high school students to outreach programs from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and the Village Program at the University of Utah; both programs encouraging students to embrace themselves fully and pursuing higher education. While in New York, she plans to perform her poems and do more spoken word to get her name out. In the future, she would like to complete a book compiling all her poetry.
The Office for Equity and Diversity invites the University of Utah campus community to voice their ideas, stay connected and be part of the Your Voice Moves Us Forward campaign.
To learn more, visit diversity.utah.edu/13-responses.
I know I matter
It’s only right I do
The only privilege I proudly hold
It’s my education that inspires me to break out the mold
I am wind that disperses seeds
I am in your laws rooted deep
I, like cracks in concrete floors, still provide you stability
Like light waves, I sometimes am invisible
But can never be destroyed
When times get rough we pass the torch
And when we speak our voices are hard to ignore
Like collective work to engage communities, we strive
Resilient like our youth, we flourish
It isn’t something we need to remind ourselves
It’s something we need to remind you
— Sabrina Abdalla