'Hip Hop Literacies Conference' showcases poetry, MC Battle, Grammy-nominated artist YoYo
Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 11:02
She does not normally present her poetry for audiences, but for the first time in more than a year, Shannon Jeffries took to the stage to perform a piece she had been working on for a long time.
“I’m a notebook poet, so I don’t usually get out and share my poetry,” Jeffries said. “This is definitely an experience for me to broaden my horizons and step out of my comfort zone and do something great for campus.”
The second-year in psychology took part in the spoken word portion of the “Hip Hop Literacies Conference” in the Ohio Union on Friday evening. The conference spanned Friday and Saturday. “A State of Urgency on the Mic!: An Evening of Spoken Word and Hip Hop,” which was sponsored by Ohio State’s Middle East Studies Center, was one of the first events to kick off the weekend Friday.
Other events at the conference included a lecture series, a concert featuring Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist YoYo, who was also a keynote speaker, and an MC Battle.
The goal of the conference was to bring OSU students and members of the Columbus community together to talk about hip-hop, how hip-hop can be used in the classroom and the misconceptions of hip-hop, said Katherine Betts, an intercultural specialist of African American Student Initiatives at OSU’s Multicultural Center and a member on the conference’s committee.
Betts said an important focus for the conference was “knowing that there are critical issues within the black community that impact education and impact various types of social issues.”
“This is an opportunity to talk about those issues in a very artistic way and bring people together to hear and to listen and to share through spoken word,” Betts said.
Quartez Harris, a fourth-year in social work, hosted the spoken word event.
“I’m hoping to gain awareness. I’m aware that this is a period of social change so a lot of things that we presented within this conference talked about what we can do as people to make a difference and also how hip-hop can be used as a tool to make an intangible difference in our community,” Harris said.
The evening also included a keynote address from Christopher Emdin, a professor at Columbia University Teacher’s College. Emdin spoke to the group about how hip-hop can be used as a teaching tool in the classroom.
Harris echoed some of Emdin’s points.
“You often hear the negative aspects of hip-hop, but to know that there are scholars working to promote the positive component of hip-hop I think is phenomenal,” Harris said.