?UESTIONS: Tyson Amir

The Message. Freedom Fighter, Tyson Amir upholds the torch of equality. His love and fight for humanity and justice echoes in his poetic practice.

Can you tell us more about Black Boy Poems and The Black Boy Poems Curriculum?

Black Boy Poems was born out of a desire to create something that would educate, empower, and inspire our people to carry on the tradition of fighting for the freedom and liberation of our people. All my creative/artistic work prior to Black Boy Poems had also been rooted in that same spirit. The only difference was that the majority of my previous work was music and poetry.

Before Black Boy Poems I had never even entertained the idea of writing a book. Becoming an author was not a goal of mine. I didn’t grow up in a place where I saw folks becoming authors but the idea came to me by interacting with our historical tradition. I was re-reading Richard Wright’s autobiography “Black Boy” in the spring of 2015 and his work called me to do it.

Immediately after finishing the book I knew that I wanted to write something that spoke to my day and time the way that Black Boy spoke about the Black experience in the United States in the 20th century. That message is still on point for the 21st century as well.

It was that moment that produced the clarity that would eventually become Black Boy Poems and the Black Boy Poems Curriculum. I knew that I would be able to create a book that allowed me to use my lyrics and poetry that spoke about the Black experience and pair it with reflections and analysis in essay form.

I felt the message would be a powerful tool for education. I also knew that I could build upon the learning potential of the text by creating a curriculum that could be used in schools and community to educate, empower, and inspire. It would be a curriculum that centers the Black experience in a way that is authentic and culturally relevant.

The Black Boy Poems Curriculum is also one of the first “true” examples of revolutionary hip hop pedagogy in practice. As of now, the curriculum is being used in multiple school systems throughout the United States. All of my school district partners in the Bay Area are using the Black Boy Poems Curriculum in classes for their students.

How important is expression?

I believe expression is of the upmost importance for a people. I strongly believe in freedom for our people. That’s mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, philosophical, and any other major way that we experience this existence as living beings. Expression permeates all those areas mentioned above, and those are areas that I want to see our people free in.

We have to be able to express ourselves as freely as possible in a society that is focused on control, exploitation and oppression. Especially if we want to become free. We have to also build on that expression and evolve it into tangible actions and agendas that will allow us to develop institutions that will establish and secure our freedom as a people.

We currently live under institutions that limit our freedom in all of those areas. This also includes how we express ourselves as Black people in all of those areas. I believe our freedom as a people is in the establishment of institutions that we control that will focus on serving the people and not the demands of wealthy.