Griffin Sendek | Multimedia Editor
In one of the biggest events since the revitalization of Duquesne University’s Black Student Union (BSU) this summer, Black Culture Awareness Week seeks to educate and celebrate all aspects of Black culture.
The week-long series of events began on Oct. 18 and continues through Oct. 23. With a new event each day, Black Culture Awareness Week is an approachable and entertaining forum discussing topics from Black spirituality and soul food to microaggressions and the history of Black representation in the media.
“I would say that we kinda wanted a build-up, starting with easier conversations and leading up to big celebrations of us being Black,” said vice president of BSU Kayla Harris.
Black Cultural Awareness Week has been a big step for organization president Darian Reynolds.
“This is one of the few events we’ve done since reactivating the organization,” Reynolds said. “Through events, we really are establishing our foundation and for rebranding and rebuilding BSU.”
The ongoing pandemic has placed campus organizations in difficult situations, forcing them to rethink in-person events and move to online platforms. In place of BSU’s typical fall celebration, the Soul Cabaret, Reynolds and his peers at BSU got creative to devise a series of events that could be powerful and informative while also keeping the community safe.
“Just being creative in a sense to what things people would want to be a part of to not just come in and talk but make it more interactive as well,” Reynold’s explained. “This was the next best way to be able to come together to celebrate and uplift the heritage, the ideologies, everything that goes around in the Black culture.”
On Tuesday, Oct. 20, BSU hosted their third event, “Learn the Legends” Black History Trivia Night, via Zoom.
The night held a casual feel, and questions were administered through a game of Kahoot! The trivia night garnered a small, but involved crowd. The seven participants duked it out, challenging each other’s knowledge of Black historical figures for the chance to win a $25 gift card.
Harris moderated the event. Though the majority of the participants’ cameras remained off, as the trivia rounds got rolling a sense of togetherness, despite the separation, was created.
The trivia tested facts of notable Black figures such as poets and playwrights, record-breaking athletes, politicians and civil rights heroes.
Although some of the questions throughout the night were common knowledge, the majority of trivia was difficult for the room to answer. The graphics outlining how many times each answer was selected revealed that the majority of the takers gravitated to the wrong answers.
However, these blank spots in the participants’ knowledge were transformed into learning opportunities. BSU member Taylor Hopkins would explain the correct answers and detail the significance of lesser-known historical figures.
The overall response to the Black Culture Awareness events has been very positive, according to Harris.
“I think people are pretty receptive. I think if people are going to show up they’re obviously gonna be looking to learn something about the subject that the event’s on,” Harris said..
Both Reynolds and Harris have been very pleased with the turnout from the events thus far. They hope this week can not only spread awareness of Black culture but also help BSU to create a diverse and informed community on Duquesne’s campus.
“We’ve had a decent showing of students so far. It would be more of a goal to get more white students and other backgrounds to participate too, ’cause again: we’re not just looking to serve the Black community, although that is our focus,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds believes that events like these are a useful opportunity to educate those less conscious of Black culture in a comfortable, welcoming setting.
“I think it’s a lot easier putting out this education through putting out meetings like this because the issue with race and justice and everything is not an easy topic for all, so it’s just a way to figure out how to include everyone,” Reynolds said.
The week of informative events leads to one final celebration.
Reynolds hopes that participants will be able to take away knowledge from these events and apply it, even in a small fashion, to their daily life.
“Culture can be defined in so many ways,” Reynolds said. “It’s something that we would urge people to think about in their daily interactions, thinking about something you’re saying, something you’re doing, is that affecting someone’s culture? Just really take a step back and think about how it affects people.”
“Our last day is the fashion show, which is basically us expressing ourselves,”Harris said. “Walking around on our campus just being Black. That’s something we wanted to celebrate. Just a week of events of just us being ourselves on our campus.”
BSU’s Black Culture Awareness week continues on Thursday, Oct. 22 with “The Beauty of Melanin: History of Black Beauty and Media Representation” and Friday, Oct. 23 with “Self-Love is the Best Love.”