Kinetic Affect to address diversity in community performance

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Kinetic Affect

KALAMAZOO—The dynamic spoken-word duo Kinetic Affect will headline Kalamazoo County's 15th annual Respecting Differences program Tuesday and Wednesday, March 19-20.

Duo members Gabriel Giron and Kirk Latimer will present "Expanding Ourselves, Embracing Differences" at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, and again at 9 a.m. the following day in the Kalamazoo Public Schools' Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave. in Kalamazoo.

The free performance is open to employees of the agencies sponsoring the 2013 Respecting Differences program as well as to the public. It is being presented on a first-come, first-seated basis, and the March 19 session will include an on-stage American Sign Language translator.

Kinetic Affect, grounded in the experiences of WMU alumni Giron and Latimer, brings spoken-word poetry to a new level. On stage, Giron's Latino background and hip-hop influences collide with Latimer's Native American heritage and academic nature in a unique way. The two have performed widely, both regionally and nationally, and are passionate about the importance of self-reflection and the need to push boundaries.

During their Respecting Differences presentation, they will explore questions about diversity, acceptance and inclusion as it relates to the world and the workplace. The performance also will help audience members realize how personal experiences affect the way they view the world and the importance of embracing each other's uniqueness.

About Kinetic Affect

Giron, who earned a bachelor's degree in film, video and media studies from WMU in 2008 and has studied creative writing, capitalizes on the scars of a difficult and angry past. His reflection on cancer survival, military experience and family relationships has enabled him to write on topics with unique vulnerability not commonly explored or spoken by others. Giron has discovered that by simply sharing his stories and speaking the truth he sees around him, others are inspired to share their own stories, regardless of age, class or gender.

Like Giron, Latimer channels his past experiences to perform and promote the understanding and acceptance of differences. He earned a bachelor's degree in secondary English education from WMU in 2002 and is a former boxer, acting coach and Portage, Mich., high school English teacher. Latimer has discovered a way to convert his inner turmoil and aggressiveness into a passionate and impacting learning experience. That has enabled him to write poetry that reflects on life as an open learning experience, one in which everyone is a student.

As Kinetic Affect, the two performers have appeared on the Apollo stage in New York and participated in a taping of the show, "America's Got Talent." They also have consulted for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, United Way and several other local organizations.

In addition, Giron and Latimer established a nonprofit organization in 2009 called Speak It Forward Inc. The organization reaches out to youths and adults in the local community "who are getting lost in the system" and is dedicated to transforming the lives of others through the practical and educational application of the spoken-word arts.

About Respecting Differences

The annual Respecting Differences program began in 1999 as a collaboration between the city of Kalamazoo and WMU to heighten awareness of diversity issues in the workplace. This year's event is being sponsored by six area employers. In addition to Kalamazoo and WMU, they are the city of Portage, Kalamazoo County, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The program also is being supported by the Kalamazoo Human Resources Management Association.

For more information about the 2013 Respecting Differences program, go to wmich.edu/hr/development/differences.html. Direct questions to Portage's Rob Boulis at boulisr@portagemi.gov or (269) 324-9228.