Emma Hoarty / Sun Staff Photographer

Spoken word poet Porsha Olayiwola shares her work in Klarman on Thursday.

March 12, 2017

Slam Poet Performs at Cornell

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“They call me capitalism and I slit throats with dollar signs. I’ll tie the American Dream around your neck and laugh while you lynch yourself for a dime.”

This is the message of award-winning spoken word poet Porsha “O” Olayiwola, who was invited Thursday to speak at a “Freedom Interrupted” lecture — an interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts and Sciences addressing prevalent social issues.

Olayiwola’s poems highlighted the prevalence of violence against women of color and how often they go unnoticed.

“They are running out of space in the prisons, so now they just shoot us,” she said in reference to police brutality and the private prison system.

Introduced as a “black, poet, lesbian, hip-hop feminist, womanist” by Prof. C. Riley Snorton, Africana Studies, the 2014 Slam Poetry Word Champion performed a collection of pieces ranging from love poems to “hipkus” — a haiku that is not necessarily about nature — and an experimental poem titled “Happy.”

“Porsha separates herself from the field of issue-based performance poets by applying advanced political analysis to examine injustice while providing perspective on concrete solutions,” Snorton said.

Olayiwola weaved in themes like afrofuturism, race and gender in her commentary in between the performances. While there was not much discussion of the 2016 presidential election, she performed a poem that addressed Hillary Clinton’s views on feminism from the perspective of Monica Lewinsky.

“She stayed married though Bill had sexual harassment charges already,” Olayiwola said in her piece. “She stayed neutral as to not build hurdles on her track to the Oval Office. … Hillary is exceptional at pretending the house isn’t on fire.”

Following a brief question and answer session, the audience requested for Olayiwola to perform one last piece — one of her most famous poems entitled “Capitalism,” which discusses the oppression rooted in the economic system.

Capitalism, Olayiwola said in her performance, is “the pimp that founded the United States.”