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2074 2

“Words are the pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”
– Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

It’s a truly remarkable feeling to be able to relinquish your fear and embrace the courage to speak. To take jigsaw pieces that are the random sets of letters to create syllables and then put them together to create a beautiful picture that you never thought you could make. Throwing caution to the wind and articulating this picture with a boisterous pride and such raw emotion that it shames all other times you’ve ever chosen to open your mouth to spill out the drivel that was just laced in terror and shame.

When I first chose to tell a friend about the time when I was a teenager sexually assaulted by a woman more than twice my age…I was confused, uncertain, and afraid. I told this young man what happened and that I was uncomfortable with the fact that I had had sex with her.

“Didn’t you enjoy it?”
“I’m not sure. It felt good…but I’m not sure how to take what happened. She left me and I don’t know what to do. It just hurts.”

My friend decided to inform everyone he could that I was a “faggot” because I didn’t like the fact that I had sex with this woman. I was bullied, made fun of, teased, accused of lying, and rejected by any girl I knew. So I backtracked and told everyone I was merely jesting. I loved it.

What’s amusing, is taking everything for granted and just moving in a forward motion anyway. It’s a simplicity that works most of the time until it comes time for damage control when you disturb others. I couldn’t win here. I proceeded to shut off and take solace in other things in silence. Like music.

Hip-hop and R&B have always been true loves of mine. Led Zeppelin was the first band I had ever heard. I loved the way the man sang! Such soul and power. I proceeded to learn about the Chili Peppers…then fell into the wonderful world of the blues. Eric Claption’s “Pilgrim” is still one of my favorite records to this day. I learned about Baby Face through this…and thus, my introduction to hip hop was brought to fruition.

It’s hard to peg the exact time when hip hop was born, but it’s widely agreed that it was in the early 70s in New York. It was born out of kids in street gangs in poor communities and movements that grew exhausted by the violence and wanted to find a way to have common ground in order to create peace. These young people proceeded to have park jams and parties using public electricity to use hip hop as an alternative to violence.

Hip hop is not just limited to “rap music”. It is am all encompassing and beautiful culture consisting of rapping/emceeing/slam poetry, DJing/Breakbeat, breakdancing, graffiti art, and entrepreneurship. Michael Render (Killer Mike) explains this in deeper detail on Bill Maher’s “Real Time”. The beauty of this culture to me brings me peace, as it is a relatable and preferred form of expression for me.

As a result of this, Northside Tavern in Cincinnati is hosting a Hip Hop show for A Voice for the Innocent. To help raise the awareness, funds, and to show that this art form is ACTUALLY an incredibly powerful combatant to violence.

 

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We all have different healthy and creative ways of expressing ourselves. Whether it’s through writing, painting, drawing, singing, dancing, inventing, tinkering, debating, reading and relating, exercising…the list goes on. The primary thing these forms of expression have in common, are that they make us feel safer and better when done to the best of our ability.

I had the pleasure of being able to construct a bit of hip hop oriented poetry with some dear friends of mine. One of our beloved volunteers, Erin…and my friend Darryl (Travis Touchdown with Raised X Wolves here in Cincinnati). We made a video that bears some of the deepest parts of our souls for everyone to see.

 

I can say that I feel incredible after mustering the courage to use my preferred form of art to confront the person who assaulted me in a way that was satisfying, healthy, and non-violent. I hope it instills inspiration and courage in anyone who sees it. To know that there is always going to be a light at the end of any dark tunnel as long as you remember that you are not alone and are strong enough to find it.

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2 comments

  1. Kristen Eby

    I am so, so heartbroken to hear how your “friend” and others treated you after finding out what happened. It makes me furious when people don’t take male survivors seriously, as though you can’t feel the same pain and confusion women can. Thank you so much for sharing, and for discussing the connection between music and healing. AVFTI has always had a great relationship with the punk/rock/metal music scene, and it’s amazing to see you expanding that within the hip-hop community. ALL the love your way, and I wish I could be there for the show. xoxo

  2. Jacqui

    I’m so proud of you. I know it hasn’t been an easy journey, but you’re doing great. I wish I could be there for this show, but I am so so proud of you. Truly blessed to call you a friend.