Multicultural Affairs hosts performer Ise Lyfe to honor Black History Month

Amy Sandquist

LU Dems rally at Dems Week 2010. (dave broker)

Lawrence’s Office of
Multicultural Affairs hosted
Ise Lyfe, a self-proclaimed spoken
word hip-hop theater artist
from East Oakland, California last
Wednesday, Feb. 10.
Harper Hall provided an
unlikely venue for Lyfe’s presentation,
a fusion of slam poetry and
lecture. At the beginning of his
performance, Lyfe hinted at his
show’s purpose by stating that
his time onstage would not be
spent chastising “whack rappers”
but would actually be a “critical
analysis of the millions of people
who buy the whack rappers’ CDs.”
Lyfe followed up this claim by
examining the disparity between
CDs sold by artists like Talib Kweli
who uses positive lyrics to create
constructive music and artists like
Lil’ Wayne and 50 Cent whose lyrics
advocate “black on black” violence,
materialism, and the exploitation
of women.
Lyfe pointed out consumers’
roles in constructing and maintaining
dangerous racial stereotypes.
“We are the answer and the
absolute threat,” he stated.
To address popular culture’s
encouragement of “black on black
violence,” Lyfe showed pictures of
Tupac Shakur and Malcolm X on
autopsy tables.
“No one cares about black people
dying.including black people,”
Lyfe exclaimed.
Lyfe used the images of Tupac
and Malcolm X to transition his
talk into an examination of the
efficacy of Black History Month.
Lyfe contended that if Americans
continue to propagate racial images
of violence, Black History Month
will continue to fail to make any
substantial difference.
The answer, Lyfe argued, is to
replace the black historical narrative
that is “violent, materialistic,
and degrades women” with one
that is “holistic.” Lyfe concluded
his performance by advising the
audience to be proactive in reshaping
America’s cultural biases and
stereotypes.
Lyfe’s performance is one of
many programs that the Office of
Multicultural Affairs is facilitating
in order to celebrate Black History
Month and honor the diversity of
Lawrence students.
Program Coordinator for
Multicultural Affairs Rose
Wasielewski explained that
Lawrence’s Office of Multicultural
Affairs was founded in 1988 as an
outlet for students to “express and
explore culture and identity.”
Wasielewski described her personal
goals in working at the Office
of Multicultural Affairs. She wishes
to “remind students that diversity
is so much more than having a different
skin color or being from a
different country.”
Wasielewski promoted OMA
programming as a means to connect
with fellow students and faculty,
encouraging them to “learn
from each other and engage in
conversation.”
To start these conversations,
the OMA hosts monthly dinners in
the Diversity Center. The next dinner
is Thursday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.,
and the Afro-Caribbean Club and
the Black Organization of Students
will be cooking food to honor Black
History Month.
Interested students are encouraged
to RSVP, though Wasielewski
explained that the dinners often
yield extra food, so stopping by is
also an option.
To stay current about the
events hosted by the Office of
Multicultural Affairs, Wasielewski
suggests visiting their page on the
Lawrence website or their Diversity
Center Blog, accessible from the
Lawrence website or the OMA
Facebook page.

LU Dems rally at Dems Week 2010. (dave broker)

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