Open mic tackles social issues with poetry


Rapper O.D. performs Tuesday at B.R.O.T.H.E.R.’s open mic in the Holmes Student Center, Regency Room.

By Najla Edwards

DeKALB — B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. — Brothers Reaching Out To Help Enlighten and Rejuvenate Self-consciousness — organization hosted an open mic, which they titled “How They See Us,” in the Holmes Student Center’s Regency Room.

A little more than 20 guests, performers and organization leaders sat in a circle in the middle of the 5,460 square foot room. The purpose of the event was to address issues black and brown communities face.

These issues include, but are not limited to, police brutality, racial classification, poverty, black on black crimes and so on. These issues were addressed in the poems and songs of the performers as well as the dialogue after each performance.

An example of these issues being addressed is a poem performed by Aliya Bailey titled “Blue Lives Matter:”

“Roses are red,” Bailey said. “The unarmed black kids’ blood was too. He didn’t choose to be black, but they chose to wear blue. He didn’t fight back, but they chose to shoot too.”

This particular event is a two part program. This open mic was considered part one, where the organization allowed people to share their frustrations and manifest their struggles through an artistic outlet.

Part two, “How Do You Wanna Be Seen,” is an interactive social event where mini clips from the movie “How They See Us” will be shown and a round-table discussion about the clips will be held.

This will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the Holmes Student Center, Heritage Room.

Among the leaders of the organization are Brandon Smith, a senior and president of B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S, Michael Jones and Demontray Hodges, seniors at NIU.

“I’m actually satisfied with the outcome that we had, being that we had somewhat of a smaller group, we were able to make the event a lot more intimate,” Smith said. “I felt like it took away a lot of the stress of being in front of a crowd. It allowed the performers to express themselves as if they were amongst friends and not in front of an audience, which is what were shooting for with this.”

The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. organization was founded on August 4, 1982, by Mr. La Russo Baker, Mr. Willie C. Doss, and Mr. Kenneth D. Edison, all NIU alumni, according to B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. official website. These three men shared a mutual plan for black males on NIU’s campus.

“The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S organization is an organization geared towards uplifting and empowering black people through education and self knowledge,” Smith said. “We try to let people know about the world that we live in but at the same time not being combative but solution-oriented. We allow people an opportunity to sit down and talk to us about those hard things; but most of all, the one thing we are to the NIU campus is a resource.”