Longtime friends and founders of the underground hip-hop group, Orange Flash, Mohammed Bilal and Josh “Boac” Goldstein visited the University of Indianapolis on Feb. 10 to discuss diversity among students on campus. Their performance piece, “The Color Orange,” used hip-hop as a medium of telling their stories to listeners.
As a rapper and poet, Bilal is best known for his appearance on MTV’s The Real World and has earned a master’s degree in Diversity Studies. Today, Bilal uses his knowledge and abilities to spread awareness of issues such as AIDS, diversity and personal responsibility.
Hip-hop artist Golstein has been rapping for over a decade and toured with artists such as the Souls of Mischief and Del the Funkee Homosapien. He and Bilal spoke to UIndy students about interacting with those from different cultures across campus.
“Hopefully [students will gain] a greater understanding of how they fit in the world,” Goldstein. “…. [A] new perspective on the world and their place in it.”
The duo rapped about their own experiences with intolerance and used their friendship as an example of how prejudice is purely mental.
“When you meet a person of a different culture we suggest you give at least three weeks of time,” Bilal and Golstein rapped. “How do we look past the settings, backgrounds and genetics if we can’t spend a little bit of time? You can’t be anti-racist if your space isn’t open to faces from different places through time. You can’t be anti-sexist if sex is the Nexus for every woman that you met with through time. If you make a new friend could you trust them with your money, with your lover, with your words, with your time? So if you meet this kind of person and they happen to be different, what will you give them? Time.”
The performance took place in UIndy Hall A and was aimed at confronting issues such as racism and transphobia.
“The only thing separating us from each other right now is our mind,” Bilal said. “That’s it. And maybe a little bit of peer pressure, but any great mind can overcome peer pressure. All of you overcame a lot of peer pressure to get to this institution.”
This message resonated with sophomore graphic design major Johana Rosendo, who said that she enjoyed the way that Bilal and Goldstein used their own experiences to connect with students and encouraged involvement from the crowd.
“I enjoyed how it was more interactive,” Rosendo said. “I liked how it combined lessons with personal experiences.”
Freshman theater major Charles Jones said he was entertained by the upbeat presentation of the event and appreciated the topic’s relevance to his own life and experiences.
“It was stuff that was on my mind too,” Jones said. “When we [my friends] would go outside of our [high] school, we would get hit with racial slurs and people thought we were different.”
The event was featured as part of UIndy Student Affairs’ Diversity Series, an ongoing series meant to celebrate and embrace diversity on campus.