The other day I received a call from a friend who couldn’t make a gig because of a family emergency. He asked me to go in his place and speak on the “Power of Rhetoric.” I truly enjoyed the research of this topic and the direction in which my lecture went. I led the discussion towards deception and individual responsibility and as usual, I concluded the lecture with a spoken word piece.
During the Q&A, a Caucasian woman stood up and told me she really liked my poetry piece. The conversation went as such,
“Are you a slam champion somewhere? I know you slam!”
I replied, “No. Never have, never will.”
“Why? You’re really good.”
“Let me ask you a question, what are your thoughts on the validity of Christopher Columbus learning of a piece of land that had been inhabitated for years and announcing it a “discovery”?”
She thought about it for a few seconds and then said, “I definitely think it wasn’t a discovery, it was just him finding something interesting that no one else really knew about so he told other people.”
“Exactly! The power of poetry and the construction of symbolism is ancient. I view slam as someone who heard a good poet one night, went and told other folks who didn’t know about it’s power and then some kind of way sold it BACK to the people who had already inherited and mastered it. You can’t sell me my own land because I know better! There’s no room for me to be a champion when my ancestors created and mastered poetry and found connectivity with it throughout six other sciences. I haven’t done that!”
This question lent itself another 40 minutes outside of the 60 minutes I was scheduled! The beauty of it all is how “The Power of Rhetoric” remained the topic unconsciously but intentionally. This was a young crowd who damn near had a view point of Langston Hughes being someone from a long ago time that walked with Jesus or something! We challenged each other with hip hop, politicians, and literature. They understood my stance. I understood theirs. We all walked away with an appreciated comprehension.
They were also very clear that I know my worth. I know what I inherited. And you can’t get me to dance for flutes when I know I have a better flow with drums. I told them that if they wanted to title me something, name me something that would allow me to remain humble and gracious for what I do and don’t know. Title me, “student”.
“Sometimes we are the victims of our own words. At best, words are sometimes poor conveyors of information.” – Julius Lester
“The leaders among you rise to serve.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.