Hui Li ’21
Spring: a busy time of year on campus! This is certainly true for the DREAM (Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring) Peer Educators, a group which is currently in its second year at College of the Holy Cross and seeks to raise awareness about disabilities.
The members of DREAM are planning to welcome a special guest to campus: Matt Maxey, the founder of DEAFinitely Dope, an organization that brings hip-hop and R&B music to the deaf community through American Sign Language.
The event will be open to the community and will be happening on Thursday, March 19, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. in Seelos Theatre. DREAM has also invited other Worcester colleges to see DEAFinitely Dope and has asked Matt Maxey a few questions in advance.
Q: How do you experience music?
Music is experienced through the mind, body and soul! How I hear and experience music one day may vary dramatically compared to what I experience the next day. To feel the beats, beat changes, understand and be able to keep up with the lyrics, and also feel included with singing along to those that my family, friends and peers also listen to, there’s a myriad of emotions and feelings involved with every jam session.
Q: How did you get connected to famous singers, and why did you choose to follow your passion for music?
Connection is always through networking, personal interactions and word of mouth. I truthfully didn’t choose to become a music interpreter, but more of allowed my passion for music to guide me on its own path which has led to opportunities like the VMAs, Chance The Rapper, music festivals, and more. Following my passion for sign language and music has led to a more authentic feel and representation in everything I do, hoping to convince the new generation that sign language can be modern, helpful and fun in the process to learn!
Q: Can you say a bit about the intersection of your linguistic and racial minorities?
As a black man that communicates verbally and through sign language, raised mainstream in public schools yet immersed in a deaf university, has allowed for a thinking and viewing outside-the-box perspective. It becomes more apparent the oppression and views as a minority when I see sighs of relief for being able to talk, or seeing people tense up when they first meet me and warm up instantly as soon as they see a smile, or the ignorance of hearing or seeing cultural insults thinking that I won’t understand what is being said from both deaf, hearing, and racial communities.
Q: What do you hope people take away from your performances?
I always hope to inspire people to do better, be better, and to realize that there is a light at the end of the tunnel where all your hard work that you put into your passion will always pay off in the end.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self?
To my younger self, nobody defines you but YOU. You’re going to try to fit in and it’s not worth it, the best thing you can do is be your most authentic self. And save your money because investing in yourself pays off far more than fast food, coffee and parties.
Photo courtesy of DEAFinitely Dope.