Art & Life

Spoken Word Poet Chibbi speaks about identity

Kirkwood Community College welcomed Chibbi Orduña, a spoken word poet born in Mexico and raised in Texas, on Tuesday, Oct. 11. His work centers around his identity as someone who is both Queer and Latino and how these characteristics have shaped the way he views the world. Chibbi’s writing and performances unapologetically venture into topics others shy away from, including racism, homophobia and cultural appropriation.  

During his performance, Iowa Hall was filled with the sights and sounds of Chibbi’s raw experiences and contemplations. The screen behind him burst to life with well-timed visuals, which displayed pain, joy and everything in between.  

His piece, “The Target Shoots Back,” details his retaliation after being called a slur, begging others to fight back against the ignorance that knows no limits. “I understand the need to stay safe,” his voice trailed, “but what is life if lived in darkness? Camouflaged in closets, buried in the bushes… you’re not safe, you’re just next.”  

His following piece, “Disney: the Mouse Took too Many Tequila Shots,” is a commentary on the destructive forces of corporate cultural appropriation, using the 2017 film “Coco” as an example. “Blood, religion and heritage do not come with a suggested retail value; so glad you got the memo, Disney.” 

After the show, he had some comments about how our society needs to improve its understanding of what representation means. “There’s a difference between diversity and inclusion. Diversity is, ‘Who’s in the room?’ Inclusion is, ‘Who’s sitting at the table?’ We do not have enough people sitting at the table that express the cross sections that is this country.” He uses “the table” to refer to the positions of power held by CEOs of companies, government officials and other massive forces with the power to use others’ cultures however they please.  

With a variety of other works, Chibbi’s set offered his most sincerely love-filled criticisms of America with a dream of what could be. His work is quintessentially Texan, a colorful blend of all the Americana and Latin heritage that comes with it.  

As both a racial and sexual minority, Chibbi understands the struggles marginalized people go through to find community, especially in relatively homogenous regions such as Iowa. He said he wants people who may be feeling lost to know, “Especially with the way the internet is these days, you’re not alone. There’s a community out there. So it’s about finding your support group, right? [It’s about finding] people that validate who you are and how you want to express yourself, and once you find those, cherish them.”

Categories: Art & Life