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The Carletonian

Black Student Alliance We Speak event honors Black History Month

<st Saturday night the annual Black Student Alliance (BSA) talent show We Speak was held in the Concert Hall. The show is put together in February every year in honor of Black History Month.
This year involved an impressive and fun line up with singing, dancing, and both original and recited poetry and rap. The event was MCed by Dex Schneider ’19, President of BSA, and Hibo Abdi ’20, Public Relations Officer for BSA. The event was organized in large part by Aislinn Mayfield ’19, Vice President of BSA and Schneider.

“I’m not sure how long it’s been going on, from the people in SAO when I was doing all the event coordination stuff, they said it’s been going on as long as they can remember,” Schneider explained of the event’s history.

The event coordinators reached out to many other campus groups to find their acts for the show. According to Schneider, “We contacted people in BSA and people in other cultural groups and were like ‘Hey, we are doing this, we should have people sign up and they can perform their talent.’ We talked to Latin American Student Organization, the cultural planning board which oversees all the cultural groups, I’m pretty sure we reached out to ASIA club, African and Caribbean Association, we reached out to them and maybe MOSAIC. We actually were pretty late on it and so we ended up asking people like a week or two before. But I mean that’s just like the way they did it last year so I just tried to keep it the same.”

Schneider explained that his role in putting together the event came partly from his previous work with the club. He was the only board member of the club that had been on the board last year. “Because all of the board members were leaving it was kind of in this way where it was like, ‘Goodbye BSA,’ if nobody stepped in to keep it alive, which is how I arrived here as president of BSA. I have the most knowledge of ‘this is what happens, this is how it should be done.’ But actually Aislinn took the lead on this event,” Schneider said. Mayfield is the Vice President of the BSA and took pictures at the event.

The talent show definitely lived up to expectations with an energetic dance number from WHOA, beautiful singing from Tia King ’18, Jordyn Pigott ’19 and Bethany Bobo ’20 and gentle acoustic guitar backing on multiple numbers by Chelsea Herrera ’19.
The show also featured a lot of performances of poetry, including some original works by students, often focusing on the black experience in America, but also touching on other themes. Some of the poems discussed personal experiences or thoughts, and the opening act of the show featured Hiba Jama ’20 reciting a powerful poem about the refugee experience by Warsan Shire titled “Home.”

The event had a relaxed feeling, with each performer introduced to cheers and calls of their name from their friends. The show felt like an evening where you got to hang out with a big really talented friend group. The formal separation between the performance and the audience felt very loose and the show did a good job of balancing powerful pieces with fun, lighter acts.

Schneider explained that the event had not gone entirely as he pictured and discussed possible plans for next year’s performance.

“There were not as many people there as we planned, but that was honestly, our advertising game was not so strong. We had cool fliers, but we were scrambling to get it out and get the word out. I think that it was a great amount of people to be in attendance at that event, but the Concert Hall is too big of a venue for it, so next year we are talking about doing it in the Cave. Honestly, it’s more of a Cave event anyways, the [Concert Hall] is more like a grand thing that it doesn’t have to be.”

The event is part of many that have happened in celebration of Black History Month. The structure of events run by BSA this year was different from previous years.

“In past years we have done Reform Week which is just a solid week of events in celebration of Black History Month and we didn’t do that this year because it was a completely new board and we kinda were a little bit lost on planning all of that. But we have had a series of events during Black History Month that have celebrated it. We had a black history jeopardy game at our meeting. We had dinner with Jason Sole, the president of the Minneapolis NAACP,” Schneider said.

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