Yellow Rage

Yellow Rage

Yellow Rage is a duo of Asian American female spoken word poets composed of members Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh, based out of Philadelphia.

The group was originally a trio, along with former member Sapna Shah. All three met at a writing workshop in Philadelphia in 2000, where they penned and performed their first group poem "I'm A Woman Not A Flava" and "Listen Asshole", a solo poem by Vilayphonh that would later become a group poem featured on Def Poetry.

After reading that Def Jam was embarking on a national slam tour in the local paper, Myers suggested that the women perform "I'm A Woman Not A Flava" which heavily focused on misappropriation of Asian culture as well as sexual stereotypes placed on Asian females. The group then named themselves Black Hair, Brown Eyes, Yellow Rage to reflect what they shared in common as Asian Americans (Shah is of Indian descent, Vilayphonh is Lao, and Myers is mixed-race Korean American). When they performed at the Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Slam in December 2000 in Philadelphia, they received an overwhelmingly positive response from the mostly African American crowd, partially due to their liberal use of profanity and confrontational expression of rage, which was not expected from them and surprised the audience. The group made the semi-finals, but did not win. Instead they were asked by the Def Jam producers to audition again for another show in New York City, and won.

In February 2001, along with Taylor Mali, Jessica Care Moore, Black Ice, and Steve Colman, they were flown out to Aspen, Colorado to perform at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. The taping of this showcase was later used as the television pilot for the HBO Series Def Poetry. After returning home from the 3-day festival, Sapna decided to quit the group and focus on her studies in Medical School.

Catzie and Michelle continued performing together as a duo and shortened the group name to Yellow Rage. In late Summer of 2001 they were invited to perform on at the taping for HBO's Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam and were the first Asian American women to be filmed on the show. They performed Listen Asshole, remixed into a group poem, based on Vilayphonh's experience speaking Lao in public with her mother and Myers' experience of being mis-identified, which first aired in December 2001. The episode can currently be seen in reruns on HBO and on youtube Yellow Rage has performed all over the U.S. including at the 2001 APIA Spoken Word Summit in Seattle, WA; the 2001 NY International Fringe Festival in the show Asians Misbehavin. In August 2002, the Leeway Foundation awarded Yellow Rage a Windows of Opportunity Grant which enabled them to travel to Oahu, Hawai'i where they performed for the local poetry organization/collective Wordstew and attended the Globalization Research Center's Trafficking of Asian Women and Children Conference. They have performed alongside many other artists including Ursula Rucker, Pharoah Monche, Native Guns, The Pacifics, Chops, Dave Chappelle, Beau Sia, Bao Phi, I Was Born With Two Tongues, Danny Hoch, and Black Ice.

They've released two spoken word albums, Black Hair, Brown Eyes, Yellow Rage, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 Handle with Care, both available on iTunes.

All of Yellow Rage's poems are self-written and most material used in their work is based on personal experiences, and focuses on many social, political issues relevant to the Asian American community. On their website their mission statement says: Through their voices, Catzie and Michelle hope to provide an awareness that is not often heard. Exploring topics from fetishes to cultural appropriation to ethnic pride, Yellow Rage challenges mainstream misconceptions of Asianness.

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