Tag Archives: Minority

To be or not to be a minority – that is the question (poem)

1 Oct

To be or not to be a minority – that is the question
A question I have been revisiting and trying to comprehend
From the outskirts, being a minority doesn’t seem like the ideal position
Being different, perhaps a dissident, maybe exotic
And I’m all too familiar with these words and trends
Having used them, even in my favour.
But as I have come to understand and accept my story
This minority status has become a fallacy
A malicious status imposed on me
The dominant norms and ideologies that have bruised and broken and beaten me
Boxing me in to this tiny crevice of being a minority.

Have you ever felt different, or that you didn’t quite fit or belong?

Most of us have felt that way at one point or another in our lives. It’s not an easy place to be, especially when we desire love, connection, acceptance and belonging.

Puzzle

Trying to find the right pieces. (Jenna Tenn-Yuk)

I’ve felt different for most of my life and my puzzle pieces never seemed to line up. There was always a part of me that didn’t quite fit the community I wanted to belong to. It has been really challenging negotiating the various pieces of my identity and figuring out how I belonged (or didn’t).

In some groups, I held back certain aspects of my identity and part of me was missing. In other spaces, I hid different pieces and didn’t feel whole. There was silence, insecurity and often shame.

Gay AND Christian? Chinese AND Jamaican? Say what?!?

Many of us never feel like we’re enough.

Never forget these powerful words. (Jenna Tenn-Yuk)

And yet we are. (Jenna Tenn-Yuk)

Can I tell you how awesome you are? It’s true! Many of us navigate these in-between spaces and yet, we often marginalize others who are different. We really need to listen and hear each other’s stories, and not be afraid to bring our whole selves.

I’m still figuring out what it looks like to bring all the pieces of Jenna to the table. It’s tough and will be a lifelong journey, but I know it’ll be worth it. When you have a chance, check out my poem, Minority, and I hope you can connect.

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong? How have you negotiated the various pieces of your identity?

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But a voice kept saying, stick to your vision

19 Sep

Performing at the Grand Slam 500. (James Park/House of PainT)

I’ve seen a lot of valleys, I’ve seen a lot of peaks
I’ve seen the bitter with the sweet, victory and defeat
Sometimes I fell, but a voice kept saying
Son, stick to your vision, peep the composition.

*Lyrics from Stick to Your Vision by Maestro Fresh Wes.

Last Friday, I performed at the House of PainT’s, Grand Slam 500 Poetry Slam, and it was quite the show! The slam was at Shopify, the former Capital Music Hall, and the event was at full capacity.

I competed against 11 very talented poets who put on a great show for the crowd, and Hyfidelik came out on top. I was also honoured to meet the godfather of Canadian hip hop and one of the celebrity judges, Maestro Fresh Wes. Heading into the slam, Maestro’s song, Stick to Your Vision, was my motto for the night.

Maestro Fresh Wes and I matched, so we took a photo! (James Park/House of PainT)

Regardless of the outcome, I knew I had to stick to my vision.

I shared a poem about my experiences of being a minority, and the various aspects of my identity that have felt different, marginalized and even worthless. I had never performed this piece at a slam, so it was a pretty risky move on my part.

Slam is a competition and many poets are out there to win – especially when there’s a $500 prize for the winner. If I was being strategic, I would’ve performed an older poem that has already received high scores. It makes sense if that’s your vision, but that wasn’t my goal.

When you perform older pieces, regular slam goers and other poets know your witty lines and will snap, cheer and speak along with you. This gets the crowd excited and can obviously influence the judges.

The crowd got to play an even greater role at this slam. Instead of five randomly-selected judges scoring the poets, the entire crowd got to vote for the “white” or “red” poet in the head-to-head battles.

Red or white? (James Park/House of PainT)

After my performance, Maestro came up to me and told me he really liked my poem and said I gave a great performance. Pretty awesome, right?

At the end of the night, host and spoken word artist, John Akpata, told the crowd to go up to a poet if they were affected by a piece. We’ve all been impacted by a performance, but how often do we actually let the person know?

Sticking to my vision. (Ming Wu)

As a performer and public speaker, it means the world to know even one person has been impacted by my words. A number of people throughout the night told me they were moved by my piece, and I knew I made the right decision to perform that poem.

If I only have one chance to share my vision, what do I want to communicate?

It’s not only in slam where we have to stick to our vision. We do it every day in the decision we make, the way we carry ourselves, how we treat other people and the places we direct our passions.

We need to constantly ask ourselves:

What’s my vision?
What am I passionate about?
What kind of legacy do I want to leave?

Poets and guest judges. (James Park/House of PainT)

Check out some more photos from the night by James Park (House of PainT) and Ming Wu.

Maestro’s EP, Black Tuxedo, was released yesterday so be sure to get a copy. This post wouldn’t be complete without listening to Stick to Your Vision, so check it out!

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