By Wynn McDonald, Staff Writer
For Black History Month 2019, Bellarmine’s Office of Identity & Inclusion (OII) pulled out all the stops to raise awareness of black heritage and spark meaningful discussions about social issues.
Throughout the month of February, OII and the Black Student Union (BSU) worked together to create a weekly schedule of events promoting consciousness, dialogue and diversity. Spearheading the planning of these events was Director of Identity and Inclusion Joseph Frazier, who said he hoped to use BHM as a model for similar celebrations in the future, including the upcoming Women’s History Month in March.
“This is what I’m hoping to be the test run for all history and heritage months moving forward coming out of OII… to celebrate and really have some more intentional conversations on some pieces that we may not usually get to talk about,” Frazier said.
The weekly schedule of events started with a specially themed lunch in UDH every Tuesday, highlighting traditional foods from black cultures from around the world. So far students and faculty have enjoyed Caribbean cuisine, American soul food and African cuisine, and a Mardi Gras celebration is coming Feb. 26.
On Wednesdays, students are invited to attend “Wakanda Wednesday” at 4:30 p.m. in OII, where they can watch and discuss the informative Netflix original series “Trigger Warning with Killer Mike.” This is followed by “Throwblack Thursday” in Hillary’s, which will showcase a different classic black film each week at 9 p.m.
Closing out each week is Real Talk Friday in the fireplace room, where attendees can participate in a community conversation on experiences relating to African Americans in the U.S. Topics include “Are You Black Enough?”, “Can You Be Pro-Black in an Interracial Relationship?” and “Reverse Racism: is it Real?” On Feb. 15, award-winning slam poet and activist Crystal Valentine discussed her piece “Black Privilege.”
The month’s focus is on the unique black experience in America, but Frazier made it clear that there is something for everyone to learn at these events.
“I can understand if some folks feel intimidated or that it’s not my place to be at this conversation,” Frazier said. “(But) I’m sure everyone has an opinion somewhere on the spectrum on what we’re talking about, so (we’re) trying to set up those spaces where we can have those conversations.”
The celebration of Black History Month on campus was made possible thanks to the hard work of Bellarmine students in both planning and advertising the events, according to BSU President Kendrick Thomas.
“The main goal is to celebrate the entire month, not just a couple days or a week,” Thomas said. “This gives us an opportunity to (become) educated about our ancestors, as well as upcoming African Americans. It also gives opportunities to our allies to continue to bridge with us and us with them.”
The pursuit of these goals is already in progress, and so far, reactions have been positive from the Bellarmine community.
“I think it’s important to talk about those things, and also to get it from someone else’s perspective,” said sophomore Grace Michels, who was able to attend some of the events earlier this month. “I wouldn’t count myself as a run-of-the-mill person, but I’m so hype about these events and I love going to them.”
To see the full schedule of happenings for Black History Month, including other special events and guest speakers put on by OII, stop by the office in Centro or look for the orange posters around campus.