Spoken word performance celebrates Black History Month

Spoken+word+performance+celebrates+Black+History+Month

Poets Kyle Rapps, Scott Raven, and Mason Granger perform for Schreiber students. Known as the Mayhem Poets, they were invited by the Schreiber Cultural Arts Committee to commemorate Black History Month.

Minah Kim`, News Editor

“Different cultures, many customs, delicious foods to taste.  Don’t run away from, who.  They.  You.  From.  Who we are.  Stick together in this human race.”

The messages relayed by The Mayhem Poets resounded throughout the packed auditorium on Feb.  13.  Through their spoken word poetry interlaced with rapping, beatboxing, and motions, the poets covered topics ranging from first loves to environmental preservation to multi-racial identities.

The Schreiber Cultural Arts Committee invited the group to commemorate Black History Month.  The performers’ experiences as a multi-racial group were a focal point of the presentation.

“I wanted to bring a program to Schreiber to honor Black History Month,” said Ms.  Lee Anne Vetrone-Timothy, co-chair of the Schreiber Cultural Arts Committee.  “The objective of the Schreiber Cultural Arts Committee is to supplement the school curriculum with cultural experiences to expand and enrich perspective and horizons in regards to the arts.”

“There was definitely something for everyone to relate to,” said senior Ali Peltz.

The group consists of three poets: Kyle Rapps, Scott Raven, and Mason Granger.  Since forming the group at Rutgers University, the three men now tour the country and world with their hip-hop-influenced spoken word performances.  Each of their performances included social commentary, addressing the destruction of the environment, social media, racial stereotypes, and gender roles.  However, they conveyed each of the messages through various types of poetry.   Their opening piece, “My name is…” addressed how they identify themselves and how others identify them by their race, skin color, and stereotypes.

“That performance was fantastic.  409 Windex.  Chemicals polluting the Earth.  Race.  My name is Mike Berry.  Strawberries? Blueberries? It doesn’t matter because my name doesn’t represent me,” said Mike Berry.

Scott Raven expressed his struggles as a white rapper performing in rap battles and hip-hop venues.  Kyle Rapps shared his experience balancing his two identities as a multi-racial child and the ultimate conjoining of the two to form his current self, who can relate to a breadth of people.  He called himself “chocolate milk,” “ a full-blooded half-breed” with an “addiction to diversity.”

The group also shared their experiences outside the performance world.  Both individually and as a group, they have traveled all over the world, reaching Africa, Thailand, Norway, and the Dominican Republic.  Kyle Rapps recounted a specific time when he worked with child soldiers in Africa and received rice as pay.

After their individual performances, they joined together at the front of the stage again for a one-word game.  They created poetry by each saying one word that came to mind.  Addressing insecurities with humor and rhyme, the group was able to reach out to students and at times, literally join the students in the audience.

Their last poem was a shoutout to the “Martin Luther Queens,” all the women throughout history and now who deserved the same attention as men.

“These programs have the potential to open up new ways of thinking, offer solutions to challenges, jump start ideas and introduce new perspectives on a whole host of topics,” said Ms.  Vetrone Timothy.

“I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats,” said assistant principal Mr. Craig Weiss.  “I thought it was a fantastic program.  Everyone there seemed to enjoy it, connect with it and really get a fantastic experience out of it. I was very pleased with the performance.”