BSU celebrates Black Culture Awareness Week

Isabella Abbott | Features Editor | Attendees of "Southern Sunday" in the Union's Africa Room (from left to right): Madison Pollard, Maddie Snyder, Lei'asha Battle, Lindsey Harris, Dina Gumaa, Nialah Miller and Eric Swain Jr.

Isabella Abbott | Features Editor

Oct. 20, 2022

The Black Student Union and the Duquesne Program Council held a handful of events this week to celebrate Black Culture Awareness Week.

The festivities got underway Sunday with a food-filled event known as “Southern Sunday.”

Students and staff alike joined together in the Union’s Africa Room to enjoy a Southern-style dinner paired with a “Clean Family Cookout” playlist on Spotify.

As guests walked in, they were hit by an aroma of delicious food, paired with the sound of OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson” playing in the background.

Once in, people were able to grab a plate and utensils to serve themselves an array of traditional Southern foods like creamy and crumbly mac-and-cheese, cornbread, fried chicken and waffles, sweet potatoes and sweetened iced tea.

Although it started with a small crowd of about a dozen people, many members of BSU and a handful of players from the women’s basketball team helped that count grow to nearly 25 attendees.

Eric Swain Jr., BSU’s vice president of community engagement, was pleased with the event’s turnout.

“It’s a Sunday, so I understand sometimes it’s kind of busy,” Swain said. “But, we have a decent crowd in here, I’m happy about the amount of people that came.”

Swain and other members of the organization hope to continue to spread Black culture awareness throughout the week. They agreed that this event was a great way to begin their celebrations.

Antonia Allen, BSU’s executive vice president, said she’s eager to have the important conversations, while also continuing to spread the group’s mission.

“I’m excited to have the comfortable space to kick back and just talk about uncomfortable things,” Allen said. “And then to also celebrate and just bring awareness to Black culture.”

Known for its goal of supporting Black students and striving for a more-inclusive campus community, the BSU made this event open to all who wanted to indulge in food and throwback music. By having a Black culture awareness-themed Kahoot and enough time to relax and eat with friends, students could feel represented and heard by others.

Lindsey Harris, BSU’s president, knew this was a focal point of what they want to do.

“Having Black Culture Awareness Week and the celebration of Black love, Black joy and Black art, just everything within our culture is important,” Harris said.

Black history is celebrated in February, but students like Allen agree that there aren’t enough events during that month to support the Black community.

That’s another reason why so many fun events were planned for this week.

“It’s important to sit down and take time outside of Black History Month to have different events that surround us,” Allen said. “I feel like we don’t get to do that all the time because we have Black History Month, but what else?”

Events for the rest of the week included Black Mentality Monday, which consisted of a deep dive into the psyche and factors that affect mental health within the Black community. The event was hosted by BSU, along with Ebony Women for Social Change and the Center for Excellence in Diversity and Student Inclusion.

At Southern Sunday, Allen said that Monday’s event was the one she was looking forward to the most, particularly because of the discussion centered around mental health.

“It’s certain stuff like that in society that isn’t taken seriously, and there’s negative stigmatism around Black mental health within our own community,” Allen said. “We don’t like to talk about it, and we even have people here that are still coming around to the idea, so I feel like this week is the perfect time to bring those types of events upfront.”

BSU also hosted a Black “Family Feud,” in which they competed against the University of Pittsburgh’s Black Action Society on Wednesday night.

The organization will host its last event of the week, the annual Black Business Expo, on what they call “Black Friday.”

This provides students on campus with an opportunity to get acquainted with the Black businesses in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities.

Swain is excited about the last event of the week, specifically because of the student interaction it’ll provide.