For us by us: Black Arts Festival 2017
March 2, 2017
Filed under Features
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The Black Student Union (BSU) recently hosted its eighth annual Black Arts Festival. The festival began as an exploration and celebration of the different artistic and expressive elements of black culture on campus. A myriad of events were collaborated for students, faculty, and community members to support the organization and enjoy the artistic presentations.
The festival began on Feb. 22 with a welcome dinner and talent show in MacDonald Commons. On Feb. 23, Jorge Zeballos held a presentation in Walls Lounge titled, “Cosmic Race, Rainbow People, and Other Myths,” further explored below. On Feb. 24, a play was performed with collaboration from the Pinpoints Company, and later that night, BSU collaborated with Activities & Campus Events (ACE) to bring in a hypnotist. Finally, the festival closed on Feb. 25 with a fashion show.
“We found it appropriate to have our festival during the last week of February in honor of the end to Black History Month. Even though our history should be recognized every day, it is often forgotten on this campus. The Black Arts Festival is just something small that we can do to educate the Bucknell community about the black diaspora. If we weren’t students first we would be doing so much more, but even these few days took a lot of work. My hopes are that in the future there will be an even higher attendance for all of our events and not just the one that is the most fun,” Vice President of BSU Kendra Spruill said.
“Cosmic Race, Rainbow People, and Other Myths”
Bethany Blass, Print Managing Editor
Embedded biases, exclusive racial power dynamics, and sanitized histories were only a few of the salient points that Latino Community Coordinator and International Student Advisor at Guilford College Jorge Zeballos touched on in his Feb. 23 presentation in Walls Lounge.
Zeballos presented a lecture to engage students in a conversation regarding racial identity in the Latinx community. The 90-minute “Cosmic Race, Rainbow People, and Other Myths: Race and Racial Identity in the Latinx Community” talk was part of the University’s Multicultural Student Services’ (MSS) new “UnHerd” series, in which social justice workshops were organized in conjunction with the Black Arts Festival. Zeballos explored the complex ways that people come to understand their own racial identities by taking a historical approach to explore white supremacy and indigenous peoples in western culture.
The series provides a platform for those who have been silenced or oppressed to speak and be “herd.” Zeballos’ talk aimed to give the Latinx community a voice, as the racial dialogues in the United States are traditionally focused solely on the black and white racial dialogue.
Zeballos began the presentation describing his own personal experience of coming to understand his own identity. He outlined how he was not challenged to examine his racial identity until his mid-30s. He recognized his Peruvian background and Latino identity, but never considered his “race.”
“I needed to dig a little deeper to understand why that was happening to me,” Zeballos said.
He began to examine his own upbringing and experiences and found a historical pattern that impacts all of Latin America on issues of race, most of which originates from being a Spanish colony. The positive responses he got after sharing this with his community, along with the solidarity he felt, made him want to travel and provide lectures that serve to educate crowds on racial identities that our complex global history forms. Throughout his presentation, Zeballos advised those in the crowd to consider the sources they rely on for the history they have come to know as truth, and encouraged everyone to think about alternate sources and hear stories from different perspectives, using examples such as the Spanish invasion and Christopher Columbus’ 1492 expedition to illustrate the abbreviation of history.
“We sanitize the history,” Zeballos said.
The “UnHerd” series moved forward with its next event, “Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation,” which was presented by Drake University’s Professor of Religion Jennifer Harvey on March 2 at 7 p.m. This event, co-sponsored by the Campus Ministry, explored the nation’s current racial climate from the perspectives of Civil Rights Movements, religious and secular.
Julie Spierer, Special Features Editor
The festival ended with a bang in a fashion show held in Davis Gym on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m., where students confidently expressed themselves through dance to empowering songs on the runway in the presence of a large, excited audience. Participants described their experience in the fashion show as extremely fulfilling and liberating.
“It was an out of body, simply empowering experience. It was as if every confidence issue I’ve ever faced melted away in the few seconds I was on stage,” Janiel Slowly ’19 said.
Viewers were engaged in the intense energy that the participants exuded on the runway.
“It was amazing to see so many people who excel in the classroom and in their involvement on campus get the chance to be complete stars on the stage and get so much love from the audience!” John Quinn ’18 said.