To Celebrate Women's History Month UWF Welcomes Raptivist Aisha Fukushima
As part of Women’s History Month observance, the University of West Florida is hosting internationally renowned speaker, singer and rap activist Aisha Fukushima. The performance lecture will take place this Wednesday evening at 6:00 in the University Commons Conference Center.
Earlier in the day, Fukushima stopped by the WUWF studios.
Her greeting was in multiple languages, including Arabic and French.
Fukushima is also multiracial, an African American Japanese woman who’s traveled to many cities, but spent her youth in both Seattle, Washington and Yokohama, Japan.
“In many ways, my upbringing was very much a breaking down of different barriers and how constructed, sometimes, those lines that we set up between one another actually are,” said Fukushima.
Not bound by borders, Fukushima’s work as a singer, speaker and “RAPtivist” or rap activist has taken her around the world, from Katmandu in Nepal to the Holy Land, places such as Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the West Bank. Fukushima is the founder of the global hip-hop project ‘RAPtivism,’ now having positive influence in almost 20 countries and four continents.
For me it really started off at looking at the power of culture and the role that culture has played in many social movements over time,” Fukushima said referencing the U.S. the civil rights movement.
Internationally, she notes the Arab Spring movement and talks about how music has been a huge catalyst in getting a message out and in amplifying the voices of youth. She says that’s important because it’s the youth that are often at the forefront of cultural, social, political and economic changes.
As an example of Fukushima’s “RAPtivism,” she wrote the song “Flint.” It highlights the environmental justice issues surrounding the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
“The first paragraph is addressing the fact that there’s been corruption government-wise in telling people that it’s clean and it’s not; it’s endangering their health,” Fukushima said. “It’s like a public health issue that we need to address, a governmental issue that we need to have accountability for and to bring transparency to that. The most important thing is to show that water is a human right.”
The song, Flint, also highlights the environmental discrimination experienced in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, tying into the theme of Black Lives Matter. And, it focuses on the ongoing refugee and immigration crisis.
Fukushima has been invited to the University of West Florida to be the keynote speaker for Women’s History Month. With that in mind, she plans to discuss gender, primarily the expectations society places on men and women because of their gender.
“I don’t necessarily want to tear apart the binary, but I do want us to get a chance to question it and to think about the ways we perform gender and the things that we’re told that fit us,” she said. The idea is to explore what allows us to be more freely be who we are.
“RAPtivist”Aisha Fukushima will present her lecture performance this evening at 6:00 in the UWF Conference Center. It’s free and open to the public.