Multicultural Week began from an angle of equity and justice with Monday evening’s showing of the 2015 production, “Straight Outta Compton,” a film about the rise and fall of N.W.A., a gangster rap group. Students viewed the film in the Page Theatre and heard commentary from a panel of students and staff.
Dr. Kyle Black, a professor from the Department of Modern Languages, introduced the film with a brief presentation on the background of N.W.A. and the context out of which they emerged, along with other hip-hop and rap artists, as an influential voice in the fight for political, economic and social recognition as African Americans. Black explained the implications of “Reaganomics” and “The War on Drugs” by supporting the view that these agendas limited the social mobility of many African Americans during the 1980s and this continues today, sometimes with violent consequences. The truth about oppression made itself known through the lyrics and music of hip-hop and rap groups like N.W.A.
Straight Outta Compton cast
The film was followed by a discussion with panel members Tiyawn Walker, Branden Timm, Chazz Robinson, Kamille Harris and Katie O’Leary about the connections between race, inequality and music.
Panelist Kamille Harris said, “We thought the movie at the beginning of the week went really well because it sparked people’s interests. Other movies could have been picked, but with the violence against African Americans going on right now, the police brutality and everything, we wanted to connect it to today.”
Harris was on the planning committee for Multicultural Week, which began brainstorming in October. Harris said the committee knew what they wanted to do from the beginning.
“We looked at past years of Multicultural Week and thought it hadn’t been enough. There wasn’t enough substance that went past surface level pieces of culture. So this year we made it relatable and real,” she said.