As event coordinator for SPU’s Mosaic club, senior TJ Sawyer believes the club’s annual Night of Beats is for anyone who feels they do not fit in.
The club comes together, Sawyer says, to celebrate the history of hip-hop while bringing various cultures together and has done so for the last 16 years.
“Students saw a need to provide students of diverse backgrounds a place to fit in,” Sawyer said. “Sixteen years later we are still doing it. I think that speaks to the need and the fact that the culture is strong.”
Like the collaborative artwork of a Mosaic art piece, the Mosaic club also includes collaboration from many different people both on and off campus.
“Mosaic is a club that is based around diversity, so it’s really about bringing awareness through that, and it is welcome to everybody,” said junior Christina Negrete, a Food and Nutritional Science major and the vice president of the Mosaic club.
Senior Christina Childs, a cellular and molecular biology major and president of the Mosaic club loves the message the Night of Beats brings to campus. According to Childs, hip-hop tells a story of oppression, joy and heartache — emotions that she says encompass the human experience.
“The acts were fantastic and really represented a full timeline of the evolution of hip-hop, which is more than just music; it’s a whole culture behind it,” Childs said.
Night of Beats on Friday, May 26 in SPU’s Upper Gwinn Commons brought in performers from inside and outside the SPU community to showcase their diverse backgrounds. The night began with a dance performance representing Ethiopian and Eritrean cultures.
Five of SPU’s students, senior Bilen Yibarek, first-year Tsedenya Kebede, sophomore Ethiopia Ephraim, first-year Meron Abay and first-year Ephrata Siyum dressed in traditional habesha dresses of the Ethiopian and Eritrean cultural wear.
Their performance encouraged audience members to get up on their feet and learn the dance themselves.
Christian Paige, a second year performer and a former SPU Admissions Recruiter, performed two spoken word pieces titled “Lost for Words” and “Philosophical Questions.”
“Lost for Words” had a light hearted message about a boy and his love for a girl who wanted to have nothing to do with him.
Contrary to his first piece, “Philosophical Questions” was not light hearted, as it spoke to institutionalized racism and was featured in “The 30 Americans,” an exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum during November of 2016.
“Standing for individuals who you care for and the problems affecting them [is important],” Paige said. “[As is] understanding that racism is not only a problem that affects people of minority, but also white people.”
She has found that taking those sentiments into an encouraging space is an impactful way to share different stories.
“It’s a celebration of culture, and hip-hop culture sometimes gets a bad rap, but if you look at the roots of hip-hop culture, there is a lot built around community and a lot built around love,” Paige said.
Childs believes that Night of Beats is an impactful event that SPU needs.
“A lot of events on campus are not oriented towards students of color who are a part of the hip-hop culture,” she said. “And since [SPU] is a campus that is embracing the culture and changing the world, we need to be embracing everyone’s culture.”