Ashley McDermott ’26
Following the “Belly of the Beast” event, Staff Writer Ashley McDermott ’26 interviewed attendee Saviana Augustine ’26. Below is the transcribed interaction.
Ashley: What did you find most profound about Da’Shaun as an author and a speaker?
Saviana: I think what I found most profound was how he was able to articulate the complex topics he was talking about. I really liked that the first half of the event, [which] was him describing what his book was about, so when he started reading he was linking things together that I had never known before, and it was very easy to follow. Also, when he was reading from his book—I believe it was chapter four—you could tell that the research was there, his intimate knowledge on the topic was there, and he was able to link so many things. He talked about policing, he talked about anti-blackness, anti-fatness, the difference between flesh and how people of color are viewed as animals when it comes to police brutality. I think that’s what I found most interesting about all the different topics he was addressing.
A: Why are events like this so important?
S: Black History Month in general is very important. We live in America, and it’s not very hard to find instances where we are oppressed as a people…so I think just having these talks and these events in a space like Trinity, which is a primarily white institution, is important for not only people of color but also people that are white who would like to attend and just learn more about a topic that they may not know so much about. As a POC, having this space where you are able to talk candidly about topics that you might not necessarily want to talk about with your white friends or someone who is Hispanic or someone who is Asian that wouldn’t understand [is important]. Especially conversations like this where it’s a topic that isn’t really talked about in the Black community. This is the first time I had ever heard about anti-fatness, and when Da’Shaun was talking about it, it made me realize that even as a POC, I don’t even know all the discrimination or the instances of things that happen against my race, so this was very eye-opening, and I’m glad that Trinity was able to find someone like Da’Shaun to talk about these important things.
A: What was a key takeaway for you?
Answer contains a trigger warning, as derogatory language and police brutality is mentioned
S: My key takeaway was when he was talking about children and how when it comes to white children and black children, specifically males, the white boys are viewed as kids and innocent much [longer] than black males are. So when he was talking about the 18-year-old and 12-year-old who were described as men, and as apes or gorillas, it made me think about how at 12 years old, you’re in sixth grade, starting middle school, so using rhetoric like that to describe a child was very impactful because it really shows the ways that our views on specific situations can be shifted based on the language that is used. I thought [this rhetoric] was especially harmful to children, who are so young and are barely adults, and hearing him talk about the kids who were murdered was very impactful.