The saxophone seemed to tremble with both grief and power during senior government and politics major Opeyemi Owoeye’s performance at Wednesday night’s Black Monologues.
She performed a poem that mourned the casualties of police brutality and race-based violence.
She began by referencing a country built on genocide and slavery and when chanted repeatedly:
America: land of the free home of the brave stolen by the Navajo, built by the slaves.
Opeyemi (O-Slice) is a poet, rapper, painter and director. She performed her piece of poetry accompanied by the saxophone and piano. This performance followed the release of her video, Far from Over, which features another video she has been working on since 2013. She turned her music video into a short film in order to create a more powerful story.
According to Opey, the most frightening part of producing her video is the fact that she may be black-listed for it.
“People feel uncomfortable discussing certain topics, race being one of them. I’m taking a strong stance and putting these issues on the forefront and attaching my name to it. It’s risky because it can turn people away from my art,” she said.
The event was moderated by Junior IVSP major Kosi Dunn, and featured poets and musicians from the University of Maryland and schools around the area.
Owoye desires her video to be seen by a wide audience, she said.
“I want this to go viral. I need this to go viral … I want it to be discussed everywhere from Twitter to lecture halls. I want it seen, discussed and dissected because there are themes present in the film that people don’t want to deal with the reality of and I hope this film can be used as a platform to do so,” Owoye said.
Other performers included guitarist and vocalist Tiyi Christoper, a freshman nursing major from Howard University. Her voice quaked with passion as she played guitar and sang her song, “I’ll Be Alright.”
Before performing, she explained that she initially composed this song as a lie to herself, believing everything would not be all right.
The silver zipper on her multicolored jacket gleamed in the light as her friends cheered from the front row. Her fingers played on the guitar strings as she continued into her second song about being caught up in materialism.
“I’m Latino,” said Emiliio Rivera, a senior public health science major.“I also wanted to hear from the diversity that we have on campus including the black experience and the black female perspective. As a human it’s important to hear all of these different stories.”
Dunn introduced performers occasionally through poems of his own. One poem, which he said he had written that day, introduced the idea of “presentable womanhood” and examined how black women are expected to perform in society.
Senior graphic design major Alexandra Fitch wrote and performed her piece inspired by the Baltimore riots. She explained that she did not know how to feel while they were happening and gradually grew more emotional. In her poem, she said “When the system says they want peace, they’re requesting silence.”
At the end of her poem, two performers joined her on stage. The three of them stood in silence- fists raised in a gesture of power and defiance.
Featured Photo Credit: Senior Alexandra Fitch was joined by friends during her performance, joining hands with Kosi Dunn (left) and Samaria Cooper (right). (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Raye Weigel is a sophomore multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.