Ezra Bebop, Contributor
Excitement radiated among the rows of red plastic seats as the Student Lounge slowly filled with an energized and diverse student body. Students prepared themselves for a long night of poetry, rap, story and song, all while connecting with the artists that many of us call friends.
The night was punctuated with masterful emceeing from Miracle Oluwadare Adebanjo and Vivian Nyangara, who ensured the transitions between performances were energizing and smooth. There were 22 performances in all, with around 70 people in attendance. The night was kicked off by a rivetingly honest spoken-word performance from Joe Gaskill, and each subsequent performer kept that same honest energy.
The rappers that performed, like Hunter Reeve and Kitto, energized the crowd with electric beats and potent flows. Other performers like Kristy Moua and Salwa Hassam genuinely opened themselves and spoke their truth to the crowd. We laughed, ate and experienced POC art together, all while acknowledging the injustices and hardships that we all collectively face every day. There is a blistering importance to that.
The unifying energy that was felt in the student lounge that night is part of what makes Augsburg a special place. Minneapolis, specifically Cedar-Riverside, the community Augsburg students call home, is an intrinsically diverse place with over 100 different spoken languages and various cultural backgrounds. In today’s often isolating political climate, it is easy to feel distant and separated from others, and those feelings of separation can manifest themselves in different ways.
If PASU’s open mic means anything, it’s that no matter what our backgrounds are, what labels we use for each other, we’re all able to be united through art and empathy. While the backgrounds of many of the performers were different from the audience, we all have something in common. We all came out to support each other, to listen to each other, to be in community with one another and to empathize. When asked about the importance of hosting PASU’s open mic, Adebanjo said, “The purpose of the event was to bring people together and give notice to not only the artists but the power of their art and how it can help unify all different types of people, regardless of age, race, sex, gender and shoe size.”
People of color on Augsburg’s campus have had a trying year to say the least, and events like an open mic where students can safely vent and entertain each other cannot be overlooked. Recognizing and empathizing with each other’s important differences brings us closer as a community and makes us stronger as a unified people. Events like these, safe and open spaces for the artistic and emotional expressions of people of color, must be preserved on this campus and everywhere else. A large thank you to PASU and everyone else who made this event possible.
This article was originally published in the March 1, 2019 issue.