The African American Community Response Team (AACRT), in partnership with the Summit Academy OIC Best Buy Teen Tech Center, launched a COVID-19 Rap Challenge for teens ages 13-18 last month to talk about how the pandemic has affected them, their families or the community.
The contest was created and organized by Brynne Crockett, coordinator of the Center. “I think it’s important to highlight the youth voice during this time because they are being impacted in ways that will affect them forever,” said Crockett.
“High school years are some of the most pivotal years as an adolescent, and having your graduation, sports season, prom, and in-school learning cancelled is tough. I was happy to create a platform for them to share their stories and also highlight their essential needs, because for some reason they are being overlooked.”
Winners were chosen from a 16-person voting bracket launched on Facebook and Instagram. The first-place winner was Tahjer Rainer Dunn, who received a $500 gift card for his video.
The second-place winner was Naje Raquel Wright. She won a PS4 system for her video. The third-place winner was Anlandreia Palmer, winner of a $200 NIKE gift card.
“I didn’t expect to win, but I just did it for fun,” said first-place winner Dunn. “Plus, we ain’t got nothing but time, so why not? This money will help me invest in myself and my career.”
“My aunt inspired me to write [the rap] because she is a healthcare worker,” said Wright. “That’s the reason why I wrote my rap about all doctors and nurses. I wanted to write about something that mattered, because I’ve had personal experience with my family.”
“I wasn’t going to do it at first, but then I was just like, why not?” said Palmer. “I might as well express how I’m feeling while doing something I love, which is making music.”
The Best Buy Teen Tech Center is designed for middle and high school students ages 13-18 in North Minneapolis to explore cutting-edge technology in a hands-on, interactive space. The Center will host another rap contest, a “salute to seniors,” giving credit to high schoolers who will be graduating with a lot less pomp and circumstance than usual this year.
The African American Community Response Team is a collective of African American organizations and leaders in the Twin Cities who have joined together to identify immediate, mid- and long-term strategies to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.