By Makayla R. Quinn
This poem was a product of the knowledge I gained from the Latin* class at the 2022 Lavender Languages Institute. During this course, we discussed the history of the letter x and how it has many different meanings depending on the context. We also asked the question – of whom is the x inclusive? – considering the goal of the term, to uplift non-binary and trans voices, and how it is used. This poem is from my own experience of how I learned what x meant. It also is a reflection on how my knowledge and actions can harm people, and that as a cisgender white person, my job is not to own the term Latinx, but to use my language to respect others.
x Pinned above a kindergarten classroom, in between whale and yo-yo waves [the unknown thing]. When I was a kid, I would stare at that laminated letter with fistfuls of glue. I became all too familiar with xylophone – a complex word, lightly percussive, and always rainbow-colored. The unknown thing is powerful. I was given access to the unknown thing at a young age. I did not think about this gift. I did not seek to appreciate its givers. I hold it now, within my tongue, and I consider how it feels. Not just for me, but for those it impacts when I release it into sound waves.
Makayla Quinn (she/her) is a senior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN working towards a BA in Psychology with an English minor. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Social Psychology centering around gender and sexuality and community.
“A person is a whole person when they are good sometimes but not always, and loved by someone regardless.” – Hanif Abdurraqib
What advice would you tell other students?
My advice to other undergraduate students is not to be afraid of finding your own path, whether personally or professionally. Take classes in subjects you are interested in outside of your major, practice self-care in whatever way is best for you, and gage with the causes you care about. College is a time when you grow as a person and cultivate your own growth.
“A Scientific Quandary” and “my playlists are as follows,” Summit Avenue Review, May 2022.