Week 3 Hip Hop, Theater and Social Change at Irving & Edwards

Posted 2 April 2012 12:00 AM by Rachel Rhoades

This week the students learned in an even more “hands-on” manner than usual. They toprocked on their feet, spun on the floor- some even learned a new flip or two! A very talented group of teenage break-dancers, led by traditional Cambodian dancer Sam Hor, joined us from the Lowell Community Health Center. They shared not only dance moves, but also moving testimony about how hip hop and the arts provided them with a way to focus their time and energy despite the violence surrounding them.

Our apprentices explored their value as individuals and how to send a powerful message through song. They examined lyrics from the song “I Am,” written by Zeus, a young hip hop artist from Botswana, for a 2011 concert that toured South Africa to raise youth awareness about HIV/AIDS and making healthy decisions. In reaction to the song, one Irving student wrote, “I like to stand up for myself. Nobody owns me. Nobody can tell me what to do because I am me.”

Edwards youth highlighted the lyrics that resonated most with them personally and spoke them as teaching assistant Kimetra Thompson repeated the full song aloud. It gave me goosebumps as so many voices arose at once, connecting to phrases such as:

“Challenges, obstacles, don’t break- they grow me/ Friends don’t control me, no,”

“I bring out the best in me/I am me, unique/One of a kind/Unlimited edition, one time design”

and “I stand for what’s right.”

I can’t wait to see what they come up with as the weeks go on moving towards their final showcase!

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