Musicians and poets opened themselves up to share their thoughts and emotions at the annual Beat Cafe in the Cadena Cultural Center on Tuesday.
The Cadena Cultural Center and UMOJA Community hold the event every February to celebrate African American History Month and give students a chance to share their passion for music and spoken word poetry.
Vince White, Cultural Programs coordinator at the Center, said that they’ve been holding the Beat Cafe for five to six years. He mentioned how at the beginning of the event, many have to overcome their nerves before coming up to the mic.
Michael Phillip Perez, a history major, was the first student to bravely take the stand and shared his experiences. He shared his experiences of his disconnect with his faith and how his father abandoned him at a young age.
Perez recently suffered from depression and anxiety and performing his works is his comeback from those dark times.
Monica Arkfeld, a first-year English Major, attended the open mic as a spectator for class credit. Arkfeld thought that it was great how the event provides students a platform to perform their works, while also allowing audience members to be exposed to different artistic styles.
Albert Munoz, a Business Administration major, also performed at the event. Munoz started rapping about five years ago. He first began practicing his skill in the shower and eventually sharing his works with friends and family. Freestyle is his favorite way to express his emotions because he loves the feeling of not knowing what’s next and feels it’s empowering to convey his thoughts.
Taylor Contreras, a Theater Major, also went up to the mic and fearlessly shed light on her experiences of being in an abusive relationship seven years ago. She described how her partner slowly turned from her best friend into a monster within the years they had been together.
According to Contreras, an audience member approached her after the performance to share that she had also been in an abusive relationship and thought it was inspiring of her to share her experiences with the crowd.
Contreras said that it wasn’t too difficult to share her experience because theater helped her express herself.
Ernie Gonzalez performed his poem in American Sign Language with an interpreter translating his gestures into his pride of being deaf. He expressed how he finds it insulting whenever people pity him because of his condition. Gonzalez takes pride of being deaf and wants to be treated like everyone else.
Towards the end of the show Perez, Munoz, Joshua Quinonez, and Daniel Peta came together to perform a hip-hop cipher, where each person took turns free styling their own verses. They came together and executed their performances with ease.
For most students, it was their first time performing at the Beat Cafe and most were nervous at the beginning, but by the time they came up and presented their works they felt comfortable to let go and freely express their emotions and struggles.