Why I know what hyphy is

I do volunteer work! It’s super yay, as I get to relive my days of Key Club fame in high school. Even better, when college kids in color coordinated t-shirts try to stop me on the sidewalk to ask for money for one of 2,743 causes, I can say that I don’t donate money, I donate time and feel good that it’s actually true

The All Stars is an organization that puts together talent shows for inner city youth. They do the shows a few times a year and one cycle involves 3 Saturdays: an audition, a workshop, and the actual show. Everybody passes the audition, they just have to show up for all of the bits in order to perform in the show. It gets the kids constructively engaged in something that they like and creates a supportive environment for them to interact with one another. Sometimes the kids are awful and sometimes they’re astoundingly great. Mostly they sing or rap or dance. There’s usually one doing something like ballet. And a handful will do spoken word.

The dance performances are my favorite. I am staggered by these kids as they illustrate just how profoundly uncool I am. I am appalled slash thrilled by the skanky hoochie dancing the girls will sometimes do. That Beyonce-like ass wiggle thing is something I would totally do, if only I could…. how fun would it be to whip that talent out for special occasions?

At some level, I just appreciate being exposed to these kids. I would find many of them a little scary if I passed them on the street, so I like being around them in a non-scary way. They are the people in my neighborhood, after all. And there’s something so normalizing about seeing them nervous… because as much of a front as these kids put up, they do get nervous about getting up on stage and performing.

The added bonus — I get to find out about things like hyphy.

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