This spoken word poet has been speaking up for Asian Americans for decades

Michelle Myers' spoken word poetry has been resonating with Asian American audiences for decades. Yellow Rage's short film in collaboration with Studio Revolt is out by the end of May.

Video Transcript

MICHELLE MYERS: My name is Michelle Myers. I'm a spoken word poet. I'm one half of the Asian-American spoken word poetry group Yellow Rage. I'm also a college professor. I teach full time at Community College of Philadelphia. So, yeah-- so that's me in a nutshell. You know, artist and educator. I also call myself a community activist.

There are so many experiences of, you know, discrimination, and prejudice, and racism that Asian and Asian-Americans have suppressed. You know, this internalized racism. And they've for whatever reasons felt as though they couldn't speak out. And-- and they've allowed-- they had allowed that silence, that feeling, that burden of that silence to oppress them. And sometimes they didn't even know how to articulate it.

And so when we would go out and perform, sometimes people would say to us, when I first saw you on Def Poetry Jam, I cried. Because it was something that I had always felt, and I never knew how to say it. And-- and you were saying-- not only saying it, but saying it in a way that I sometimes wished I would have said it. You know, like after the fact when somebody said something to me, you know, and I would think, oh, I should have said this, and I should have said that, you know.

And now, here you are and you were saying it. And you were saying it on, you know, national television, on this-- on this huge platform. And they just said that, you know, the-- the thought that went through their head was finally, you know, finally somebody saying what I've always wanted to say. And so, you know, I do this work. It's humbling. You know, it's very humbling for me that's why in that poem it's nothing I say that I'm just a poet.

I'm not anybody special. I'm just a poet trying to make the world a better place. Those are the lines that I say in that poem. And-- and that's really true. And some people might say, oh, you know, that's so-- that's so trite or, you know, simplistic or what have you. But really for me, that's what it all boils down to. I'm just trying to make the world a better place, and I'm doing it the best way that-- that I know how.