A decade ago, when social worker Tomás Alvarez III was working as a school counselor at Berkeley High, he assumed that as a man of color he would have more success than the other counselors — mostly white and female — in reaching African-American male students struggling with truancy and other problems. But, he found, they weren’t any more interested in talking to him than the others. A search to find ways to get young black males to discuss the trauma in their lives led him to found the Oakland-based nonprofit Beats, Rhymes and Life, which uses rap and hip-hop as a form of therapy. We’ll talk to the programs’ co-founders and two participants about the positive effects of telling their stories through their lyrics and music.
Tomás Alvarez, founder and CEO of Beats, Rhymes and Life
Rob Jackson, co-founder and chief of staff of Beats, Rhymes and Life
Haniyah Muhammad, intern for Beats, Rhymes and Life and former student in the class at Oakland High School in 2009
Damonte Wilson, intern for Beats, Rhymes and Life and former student in the class at Oakland High School in 2009