Aisha Fukushima brings synergetic performance to CSU

Arrion Smith

woman holds microphone to an audience member
Aisha Fukushima works with the audience to create a song in the North Ballroom of the Lory Student Center Oct. 10. Along with her performances, Fukushima talked about hip-hop, racism, humor, intersectionality, freedom and her experience with “RAPtivism.” (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

After last year’s cancellation of her appearance due to a big snowstorm, Aisha Fukushima visited Colorado State University for a synergetic performance. 

Hosted in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom by CSU RamEvents, the community welcomed Fukushima with open arms to grace them with her talent on Thursday, Oct. 10. 

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“As RamEvents, we are really excited to bring someone who can represent so many identities and also so much activism within the community and the global community as a whole,” said Mariah Pursley, a RamEvents graduate assistant of Campus Activities.

Fukushima is a multilingual, multiracial woman of African American and Japanese descent who intertwines her performance skills with her lecturing and teachings. Fukushima is an educator, speaker, singer and “RAPtivist,” a term that she coined to describe her act.

I think (art) can be a powerful communicator in helping people shape the way they think, their frameworks and eventually their actions that flow from that.” -Aisha Fukushima, educator, speaker, singer and RAPtivist

Fukushima’s concept for RAPtivism turned into a much larger movement through her work across the globe. Fukushima is especially known for her TED Talks, and she has been featured on South Africa’s number one hip-hop magazine. She is a unique voice that is heard by many, and now, CSU is one of them. 

Fukushima’s performance was set intimately so she could connect more with the audience. She prepared the audience with a breathing exercise, encouraging everyone to close their eyes and relax in order to align themselves before she spoke.

She then shared some of her pieces, including personal stories of who she is and what RAPtivism means to her. 

Fukushima’s performance is marked by unique movements that match her powerful words, making it feel more like a symbiotic dance than traditional spoken-word poetry. She talked about everything from the history of hip-hop to climate change to what it means to be a person of color in America.

Fukushima isn’t bound by any particular subject; she explores all types of activism and ties it together with a common message of freedom. She said that while many artists use their work for commercial reasons, it can also be used to communicate a message and force people to reflect. 

“I think (art) can be a powerful communicator in helping people shape the way they think, their frameworks and eventually their actions that flow from that,” Fukushima said. 

More of Fukushima’s work can be found on her website. 

Many of the audience members connected with Fukushima’s message, finding empowerment in her dedication to her work. 

“I really appreciate that she is a multiracial, multicultural person because I am, so seeing that person succeed and be able to do amazing things and be able to live outside of those normal boxes is always really inspiring,” said Dawne Meade, a staff member at CSU and a fan of Fukushima. “I know that many others could relate to this and the speaker as well.” 

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Given the recent events on campus that have created a particularly tense and hostile atmosphere, Fukushima’s performance seems as timely as ever. 

“I was super excited to build community with you all,” Fukushima said. “In some ways, it’s perfect timing.”  

Fukushima’s act can lead to many interpretations, but a lot of it is about challenging the norm and pushing people to think more progressively, make positive changes and better themselves and others. 

“There is a lot of power in art, and it’s able to become (the) language of movements in that way and not only state the way things are or how we think they are, but to help us design the future as we go,” Fukushima said. “It’s a technology that we can use to leverage imagining a different future than the current status quo.”

Fukushima talked about the importance of art in people’s lives and how it can be a tool to create positive changes within our communities. The CSU community coming together and listening to Fukushima speak opened the minds of some and brought comfort to many who share these experiences.

Arrion Smith can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @arriesmith__