UWF hosts ‘Raptivist’ Aisha Fukushima

By Taylor Hall
Staff Writer

The UWF Conference Center was filled with energy on Wednesday as Aisha Fukushima rapped, sang and lectured about equality and diversity. Fukushima calls herself a “raptivist” – or rap activist.

“Raptivism” was founded by Fukushima as a global hip hop project spanning 10 countries to highlight how different cultures can come together for freedom against oppression. “Raptivism” seeks to fight oppression with expression.

Aisha Fukushima rapped, sang, and lectured during the event as she talked of fighting oppression through expression. Photo by Taylor Hall.

The event was attended by students, staff and the general public. Starting off through song, Fukushima had the audience participate by singing a verse with her to get comfortable. Fukushima interacted with the crowd throughout her lecture and would occasionally check in to make sure everyone was OK.

“I didn’t expect to be moved in the way that Aisha was able to do,” said Steven Shapiro, journalism senior. “Gender issues are a huge thing in our country, and especially at this time in society. So to hear her speak was especially tremendous.”

A major dilemma Fukushima focused on was the idea of genders being stuck in a box. Her position was that there are two main genders that society sees: masculine and feminine.

“In many ways, in order to reach gender equality, we need to start to question a little bit of this binary,” Fukushima said, “because not everyone fits into one or two boxes.”

Fukushima said that fitting into these boxes is not a bad thing, but that we as a society need to grow to accept other genders that don’t. Through her lecture she pointed out that society should critically think about themselves and decide if they are acting in a way that is impulsive because that is what is expected, or if that is how they truly see themselves.

“Even if you feel pretty solid in your gender box, so to speak, that’s awesome,” Fukushima said. “But know that those expectations don’t have to shape completely who you are. This is about getting more free; at least that’s the essence of my work.”

Skylar Braswell, telecommunications and film senior, introduced Fukushima for the event.

“I feel like diversity on campus is much needed; if anything, we need more awareness,” Braswell said. “Most people on campus, like Fukushima said, feel like we are being placed into our own boxes.”

Fukushima concluded the event by leaving the audience with the idea that young people have the power to make a change.

“Young people are at the forefront of movements and creating change,” Fukushima said, “creating different forms of change as well as the kinds of expression that brings them together. You don’t have to be an artist to join the movement.”

To learn more about Aisha Fukushima, visit her website at www.raptivism.org.

Aisha Fukushima, “raptivist,” visited UWF on March 22 to discuss equality and diversity.