Andrew Lustig ’10, now a professional performance artist, calls “Act Like You Know” “the most human experience.”
Johnson’s course, says Lustig, presents hip-hop as not only an art form, but also as history connected to important social and economic issues and racial relations in the United States. “It’s performance, yes, and it’s art, yes, but it’s also so deeply connected to people’s lives and to the world that we live in,” he explains. “All of a sudden, [hip-hop] became both an artistic pursuit and an intellectual pursuit and a pursuit of social change and of social justice.”
Johnson recently partnered with fellow Lehigh alum Daphnie Sicre ’98, an instructor at Borough of Manhattan Community College, to write a chapter in a forthcoming anthology from Routledge Publishing titled Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches. The chapter, “#UnyieldingTruth: Employing Culturally Relevant Pedagogy,” documents “Act Like You Know.” Johnson is also exploring how she might collect data to track student experiences in the course.
“I’m excited about the possibilities,” says Johnson. “This class feeds into this generation’s desire to tell their stories in their way. They’re going to use their phones, laptops and social media to tell their story. This course is going to polish them up, expose them to quality performance techniques and empower them to not just put nonsense out there, but something of substance, something they can truly hang their hat on and be proud of.”