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Poet encourages students to find beauty in confidence, pride

By Kelsey Hammon
On March 6, 2012

  • From left to right, UNC students Jasmine Jones, Amoni Ashby, Eboni Coleman and BreOnna Tindall perform a song during “My Black is Beautiful” Monday in Lindou Auditorium. Melanie Vasquez


The media often tries to advertise and sell beauty, like the body itself is a product.  
UNC's Black Women of Today and the Women's Resource Center aimed to show students a different message through performances from students and a popular activist during "My Black is Beautiful" Monday.
In their presentation to celebrate both Black History Month and Women's History Month, the organizations prescribed that beauty is in strength, confidence and pride.
"My Black is Beautiful" commemorated black women in the arts, including Cicely Tyson, Debbie Allen, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. The show also addressed myths about the stereotyped image of the black women in society. 
The first act of the show included dancing, singing and poetry reading. A poem by Tyrell Allen addressed and conquered negative stereotypes projected by the media. 
"The sister, the daughter, the mother, the reason why there's beauty in brown," Allen said in his poem.
Sonya Renee, a women's rights activist and poetry slam legend, performed a set of poems addressing myths and defining beauty in black. 
"We choose to have Sonya Renee here because she is extremely supportive of the university," said Devaughn Morgan, a sophomore journalism major and member of Black Women of Today. "Renee visits UNC frequently."
Renee didn't need a stage to be the center of attention as she started her slam poetry standing amidst the audience in Lindou Auditorium.
"You know I'm loud, right?" Renee asked the audience after her first poem. 
Renee was indeed loud, and so too was her message of strength and pride in the self. Renee's powerful cadence and electrically charged verses had the audience chanting, screaming, laughing and crying. Renee addressed a host of issues in her poems. She also objected to the message of contemporary hip-hop objectifying women and the portrayal of men as "pimps" and "playas." 
"MTV changed the hip-hop scene!" Renee shouted. 
But the poems' overall message was that we should want hip-hop to return to its former glory, when it was about the music and not materials.
"The whole show was so great," said Breanne Porter, a sophomore psychology major and member of Black Women of Today. "I worked on the lights, so I got a really great view."
Renee ended her empowering set with a note on her new project, "The Body is Not an Apology." The project aims to make people proud of their bodies and treat themselves as beautiful people, not like an object that needs to be fixed or repaired, Renee said.
 "I'm so grateful to be in a space that honors black women," Renee said of the UNC campus.

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