Slam poet FreeQuency gives spoken word performance fueled by civil rights activism

Cassandra Martinez, Staff writer

Saturday evening Linfield College hosted award-winning spoken word poet and speaker FreeQuency.

Students gathered for an intimate performance in Withnell Commons. She performed poems from her book titled “Becoming//Black” which was published in 2015.

Her first poem of the night was titled “The seven deadly American sins—a tribute to Trayvon Martin.”

FreeQuency brought the audience’s attention to the fact that Martin would have been 23 years old today if he were alive.

When asked about what she felt when writing poems that correlate to real life events, like the Trayvon Martin Case or Sandra Bland’s story, she replied, “I think it’s a feeling of intense sadness and anger. This feeling that this person should still be here and its an injustice that needs to be faced, and named for what it is. It’s the idea that you can’t change what you don’t name. James Baldwin has a quote that said, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’”

Other poems she performed that night were “Say Her Name,” a poem about Sandra Bland, the black woman who was arrested at a traffic stop and who was founded dead hanging in her cell three days later.

“The joys of motherhood” was about black women’s reproductive rights and the fears of being a black mother in the United States.

FreeQuency performed this piece at the TED Talks for her segment, “Black Life at the Intersection of Birth and Death.” She also talked about the 3-month ban from the TED Talks because she ignored their input to not include Black lives in her segment’s title.

Her final poem of the night was titled “Dear white people.” FreeQuency said the poem “is based on and takes lines from a Facebook post when I asked black people “if you could write a letter to white people…what would it say?”

The night concluded with a Q&A session for FreeQuency. Students asked her various questions about her background and her inspiration for her poetry pieces.

She was born in Kenya and later moved to New Orleans with her family at a young age to join her father, who was already working in the states.

She also talked about how she began writing her book while attending college.