With a rich, drawling voice, Blake Campbell ’18 performed Nina Simone’s jazzy “Mississippi Goddam” in a capella style in the Black Arts Coffeehouse last Friday evening. As she belted increasingly higher notes, Campbell referenced to the injustice of colored people, concluding each verse with “Mississippi Goddam!”
“I know that [Nina Simone is] someone that we don’t get to talk about a lot in the same way that we don’t get to talk about Malcolm X because he was an activist that wasn’t afraid to say exactly what needed to be said. That strikes fear in some people sometimes, and I feel like this song will help us, especially here, to not be afraid to say these things,” said Campbell.
The event was hosted by the African-Latino American Society (Af-Lat-Am). In commemoration of Black History Month, this performance was hosted for its second consecutive year.
“This was dedicated to the Black Arts, and this is a venue where, for once, black students can take up a majority of a room. That really doesn’t happen on this campus… As a black person in a room that is inevitably filled with people who are not black, it’s hard to share your experiences in an intimate way that our spoken word artists who brought up these significant topics in their poems could… It’s important to not only showcase what we can do for the community, but also just for us to have a safe place in our community as well,” said JayShawn Fuller ’17, co-head of Af-Lat-Am.
Dakoury Godo-Solo ’17 was one of five students who presented original spoken word poetry. After reading the first stanza of one of his untitled poems, Godo-Solo suddenly flipped the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and shuffled quickly to the right of the microphone placed in front of him, assuming his role as “Evil Kermit,” a reference to a popular meme. Alternating between the two personas with each stanza, Godo-Solo’s poem described the exchange of ideas between black queers.
“Memes are the voice of this generation. So I was writing recently, and I was just experiencing internal dialogue, and I thought to myself, ‘What better represents internal dialogue than the Kermit meme?’ [This conversation was basically about] what happened during the Civil Rights Movement with gay, lesbian, trans, and queer people. Now we are fighting for queer rights but also, as in a lot of situations, black queers are still very vulnerable to systematic oppression,” said Godo-Solo.
Anna Lopez ’19 performed an original spoken word piece illustrating her reaction to a conversation with her brother last summer. Her poem took the audience through her insecurities as a minority girl.
“I think, especially at Andover, girls of color are always overlooked and some of the time, even, the guys of color on campus don’t want to get with the girls of color and all over the media, everything is whitewashed. So I think it’s important, especially at the Black Arts Coffeehouse to acknowledge that, just because we’re not always shown and guys don’t always like us, it doesn’t mean we’re not beautiful,” said Lopez.