I am a rapper and a spoken word poet. I also write plays and short stories. I’m a storyteller. It’s all the same. Different mediums but we’re all taking it back to the storytelling days. The spoken word proceeded the written word. Every culture had its storytellers. We transmit and create reality through our stories.
I will be speaking at Latino College Day events in Durango, CO and Farmington, NM this week, in addition to performing at the 3rd annual Real History of the Americas celebration at Fort Lewis College (an alternative event to Columbus day).
I have spoken and/or performed at various events around the country that encourage Latino youth to pursue higher education. As a first-generation Chicano/Mexicano college graduate, I greatly value this work. I beat the odds and earned B.A.’s and a Law Degree. Many opportunities have come from the hard work I put in at the college level, in and outside the classroom.
I use my knowledge daily to write new material, engage young people, navigate mainstream educational institutions, write my own contracts and business agreements, etc.
When I prepare to speak to young ethnic minority students about higher education, I weigh the benefits of a college education with the reality of college education in America.
College is increasingly inaccessible to la raza. High school dropout rates among Latinos and Blacks continue to rise. College tuition and expenses have skyrocketed. Funding option are disappearing. Affirmative action is dead.
We need to push our young people to demand a higher education. At the same time we have to deal with the reality that many of them will not get there. We have to prepare them for that fact and make sure that they know that they are not failures if they do not attend college. There are other ways to attain knowledge.
Beyond colleges and universities, we need to talk about trade schools, recording schools, dance schools, technical schools, schools that focus on urban gardening and herbal plant medicine… The list goes on. The possibilities are endless.
Beyond schools, we need to advocate that our young people draw upon their inner strength and the strength of their ancestors, to educate themselves on all levels, to build their own knowledge of the mind, body, and spirit, with or without institutions.
To find pride in yourself and peace in your identity; this is a starting point.
A.M. Soleil Retrospectively is a 52-week blog series in 2010 breaking down 5 years of independent music and performance art production.