Black history is more than a month

Thekima Mayasa, a Black Studies Professor, speaks to an engaged audience during a Black History Month event at Mesa College Photo Credits:

Savannah Cadet-Haynes, Social Media Editor/ Staff Writer

“ I am powerful, I am great, I am the force that will change the world,” was shouted across the room. Christopher Starr began his poem with this “repeat after me” call. Starr, a 22-year-old black studies major, performed four of his poems.

San Diego Mesa College celebrated the month of February, also known as Black History Month, with a series of multiple events around campus. The events were designed to spread awareness of the struggles the black communities face through creating a safe haven for students. The annual Open Mic Night was hosted on Feb. 20 in room M-211 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.  It gave poets the opportunity to speak out on living while black, inviting community members and students to express their experiences of being black in America using spoken word.

The room was filled with comfort, emotion and love while the poets presented their pieces. The audience was welcoming and joyful, giving the room a sense of acceptance. The listeners shared similar reactions, snapping their fingers, nodding their heads, and making comments that connected their experiences with the poets and their pieces. Laughter was shared throughout the room, giving the poets the opportunity to express their feelings openly. Many of the poets expressed their life lessons while others created lyrics and poems.

Derrick Mckinnie, a 23-year-old music production major, indicated that the inspiration for writing his poems and songs came from the realization of the outcome of being low, frustrated with his situation. “No matter the outcome of what you do, at the end of the day I couldn’t point the finger at anyone. I was the common denominator of all these bad things that were happening,” he said.  Mckinnie took responsibility of his actions and put it all into a song and multiple poems.

Mckinnie’s poetry ties Black History Month to his personal life experiences. “We can only stop what is happening to us –only us. No one else is going to do it because we’ve seen it time and time again. Everyone loves our culture, everyone loves what we do, but when it comes down to it, is everyone going to defend what everybody loves? People clearly don’t,” he said. As a society we have seen numerous incidents of cultural appropriation, where black culture is exploited by non-black people and they are praised for it, yet, no one wants to defend black culture. For example, the Kardashian family has a long list of appropriation: while they continue to build their empire and make profit off of the black community, they have little regard for the people who they steal their hairstyles and clothing from. The line has become blurred for social media influencers and famous people regarding cultural appropriation, something that society once called “ghetto” is now called the current trend.

“Black history month means the world. There are a lot of hidden things and treasures under the surfaces that even historians don’t know about that our ancestors created. So, when it comes to hearing ‘Black History Month,’ what I think about is the world,” Mckinnie said.

The Open Mic Night had the overall message of positivity and acknowledging the power of healing. The night ended with a music video called “Little Things” by India Arie, reminding everyone to acknowledge that the little things matter. Our voice matters, our lives matter, and our community matters. The poets shared the same passion, as well as similar life experiences. With the constant reminder of letting your voice be heard, students and community members were able to enjoy the Open Mic event and use it to their advantage.