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Welcome Black Poetry Explosion brings ASU African Americans together through expression

Welcome Black Poetry Explosion
Poet Truth Be Told speaks to the audience at the Welcome Black Poetry Explosion on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus.

The Arizona Ballroom in the Memorial Union transformed into an inviting atmosphere filled with passion and pain Wednesday night, as the African American Men at ASU celebrated 11 years of its Welcome Black Poetry Explosion event, which united the audience one poet at a time through words and expression.

Powerful voices were heard at this event. Hair rose on arms, igniting goosebumps throughout the body. Pain was transferred from one individual to the audience. Laughter boomed at times, while other moments held only complete silence. 

Topics of rape, love, pain, happiness, homelessness hung in the air for the audience to process. Nobody was an outsider to the event, only strangers among new friends. 

Introverts and extroverts alike expressed their opinions, experiences and love during their time on stage. No matter who a person was, they were accepted.  

It wasn't junior Tomas Stanton's first time at the Welcome Black Poetry Explosion event.  He continues to come each year because it is has a personal connection to him. 

"This is my fifth time, so I definitely support AAMASU in what they are doing outside this event, but this event particularly I'm a poet," Stanton said. "I run a youth organization that uses spoken poetry as a medium of youth development so it was a natural connection."

Black Ice, a well-known poet in Africa American community and host of the event, made this a point to be known through his dynamic voice and expression of poetry.  

At times, he would make the crowd laugh and stand up, but most importantly, Black Ice made people feel something. 

President of AAMASU and sociology and economics junior Issac Arce explained why Black Ice was important to the event.

"(He) is the host that we chose personally because we feel he has the ability to reach the minds of the demographic that we tend to reach," Arce said.

AAMASU is an organization that strives to focus on the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of African American men.

"The actual purpose of the event is to get incoming freshmen of color in one room to realize that there are people who are older than them, who look like them, who are going to help them," Arce said.  "It's a large networking opportunity." 

Geography junior Shalae Flores expressed this as one of the reasons why she chose to attend the event, bringing Arce's point home. 

"Honestly, I'm multi-racial and I don't really feel accepted as a black person," Flores said. "I feel like if I attend these cultural events, I will feel more comfortable."

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