"Speak Your Peace" blends original poetry, rap, comedy and social justice


Chicago senior Cassius Tae performs during the Student Government Association Diversity Committee "Speak Your Peace" event in the Bovee University Center Rotunda Room Nov. 9.

Poets, rappers, and comedians addressed social justice issues during the Student Government Association Diversity Committee's "Speak Your Peace" event in the Bovee University Center Rotunda Room Nov. 9.

The open mic attracted 85 students and finished the committee's Diversity Week. Diversity Week included a "Rain-dou-cider" event on Nov. 6 in the UC that provided doughnuts, cider and LGBTQ statistics to passersby. Another event, "Courageous Conversations" was held Nov. 8 in the Charles V. Park Library to facilitate discussion on controversial topics. 

"Speak Your Peace" also provided a space for the discussion of issues. The difference, however, was in its creative presentation.

Chicago senior Cassius Tae and Farmington Hills senior Natalie Henderson hosted the event. 

"It's important to come in front of all these people and say things you wouldn't say normally," Tae told the audience. "(We are here to) speak our peace and live our peace."

Detroit freshman Yasmeen Duncan presented a spoken word poem addressing the oppression of African Americans. Her poem included the line, "freedom isn't to be lost on people like me," speaking out on how protest by white people is treated differently than protest by African Americans. 

Brighton senior Aaron "Coda" Johnson performed rap for the audience that echoed the sentiment which Duncan introduced.

"They round us up like they trying to put us in the ground," a bar explained. 

Much of the sentiments shared during the event revolved around frustration at the treatment of people of color in American society, and the apparent apathy towards issues plaguing majority-black cities.

Grand Rapids sophomore India Ambrose's spoken word poem included "Kids in Flint drinking water the color of rust, in the country we trust," mentioning Flint, Michigan's continuing water contamination crisis.

Diversity Committee Chair Brianna McCrary said she was impressed with the attendance at the event. "It wasn't what I expected, I thought it was going to bring less people. As I was seeing faces, I thought, 'Wow, this actually got around campus. People are really coming out."

Of the 16 acts who performed, McCrary said, "It was a great environment for people to say what they needed to say."