“In the future, I want to combine my creativity and my arts with human rights and social justice in a more realistic sense and to make those things happen,” said Nanee Sajeev, 4th-semester economics major. Sajeev works as a part of the Rainbow Center’s Red Crew and is also president-elect of UConn Poetic Release.
Red Crew, she said excitedly, “is outreach but for big events and shows like homecoming and the drag show that get big audiences.” Sajeev and others reach out to theater troupes and other organizations, as well as set up tables at open houses and Spring Weekend.
“The drag show specifically went really well this year,” she said. “We had people lining up at the Student Union theatre and we even had to turn some of them away… I think people who hadn’t been exposed to the queer community were exposed to the queer community for the first time.”
Sajeev sees the performing arts as a way to connect people across usual boundaries of identity and culture.
“The drag show is supposed to be performance arts plus gender expression plus comedy,” she said. “It’s supposed to be weird and funny and in your face and these performers will go into the crowd and dance with you. It’s a good way to get people excited about a community that they normally are not part of.”
She is also the current CFO of UConn Poetic Release, a spoken word poetry organization. Sajeev discussed the difficulty and rewards that come with handling business aspects of an arts-focused organization.
“We are all very concerned about our artistic expression so we’re not very organized but we do a lot of work,” she said. “We get a lot of poets to come in and there’s a lot of fun things that happen.”
She talked happily about her connections to the Union of Student Governors and the process of funding poetry slams, author readings and workshops through her organization.
“We get a lot of support from the school and the community to bring out these really cool poets and to work with them. It’s really cool to be a part of that process… to bridge that gap and to create that space. With a lot of money,” she says, laughing.
On her future plans as the group’s president, she hopes to hold more events “so that the people that follow us have a format and a plan. But I also want to be able to get us out there and connect with the community.”
While talking about her own poetry, Sajeev said, “I think speaking as a brown girl, everything that I do, everything that I write is about me being a brown girl even when it’s not about my race or gender. And in that way, inherently, my body is political.”
“There’s a saying about making the personal political,” she said, “It fits my poetry because when I talk about something personal it is political. In that way, I think I’m radical by not being radical.”
Ultimately, Sajeev hopes to use her experience in running these organizations and studying business to become a professor and “to teach in the real world and to real students at the intersection between human rights and social justice and creativity.”