VSW: "Status Update" An Open Mic Review

by Ashli Alexander

On Thursday, September 19, I attended Vandy Spoken Word’s (VSW’s) first open mic of the semester entitled “Status Update.” Each piece related to a current social, emotional, or personal issue that could easily be seen as someone’s “status update” on social media. It was held in Fleming Yard, the newest, and soon becoming my favorite, outdoor hangout spot on campus. Students performed various poems, raps, songs, and other pieces that covered a wide range of topics from gun violence to analyzing love. Here are a few of the thoughts that I had during, as well as after, this event.

A common theme from these various pieces involved the role that every single one of us play in changing the future of the United States and helping each other in any way possible. In one piece entitled “Praying in English,” the author discussed the horrifying conditions of the Immigration Detention Camps at the U.S. – Mexico border. The image that he described of a woman wearing a “God Bless America” shirt next to these suffering, praying individuals really struck me. The author discussed how it is difficult to maintain faith in times like these when his prayers for those suffering seem to not be answered as well as the prayers of others.

An additional piece that I found interesting discussed how people should look past someone’s skin color and outer appearance to their internal struggles, words, and actions. However, at the same time, we cannot be “color blind” either and must also consider how race plays a factor in every situation. Many people are quick to look at someone’s skin and make assumptions about their past or where their thoughts originated instead of actually paying attention to them. It is imperative for this to change.

Another piece that stuck with me was entitled “Mona Lisa,” and it was very relatable by the way the author discussed being judged, bothered, and harassed by white people and black men. I thought it had a very interesting tie into the painting Mona Lisa and offered an alternative explanation as to how and why she posed for this painting. In everyday life, people make comments about and stare at Black women in a way that is not acceptable or appropriate. Unless we talk about these issues, then there is no way for them to change.

If you did not attend VSW’s Open Mic Night, then you definitely missed out on a great night! I definitely recommend attending their next event in order to see your peers and members of the Vanderbilt community showcase their incredible talents and express themselves and their beliefs in creative ways.

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