Black Students Alliance

BSA "Busts it Down" and talks identity in October

By Jeda Coward ’24, Makenna Noel ’24, Jasmine Filawo ’23, and Tiffany Filawo ’23 November 14, 2021

Rensselaer’s Black Student Alliance had a busy October, from organizing general body meetings, to creating a new event called the Bust It Down Battle.

The first ever Bust It Down Battle was created by BSA President Tiffany Filawo ’23. The event had attendees placed in random teams to compete against each other in different events, like song association, rap battles, karaoke, and dance battles. This was a fun night with talented teams competing for a spot as the winner of the Bust it Down Battle. The first ever Bust It Down Battle champions were Josh Atta ’22, Maverick Bioh ’21, Stone Mclaren ’22, and Jerome Carter ’22, who proudly went away with a Ben & Jerry’s coupon and a glass mug!

MEMBERS OF BSA COMPETE in the Bust it Down Battle. Franklin Johnson

BSA also welcomed new sophomore and freshman representatives to our Executive Board! We are so thrilled to have Faren Thompson, Victoria Campbell, and Amar Malik as our freshmen representatives and Amy Enyenihi, Leah Delacruz, and Rose-Curie Florestal as our sophomore representatives. We are confident that our new additions will have valuable input to help BSA serve as a better resource to the Black community on campus.

We kicked off our October GBMs in honor of Black History Month in the United Kingdom. During this GBM, we highlighted Black historical and current day figures who have greatly impacted the UK through music, politics, activism, and more. We then tested BSA members on how much knowledge they retained with an exciting game of Jeopardy. We want our GBMs to be the perfect cross between fun and expanding our knowledge on the Black experience outside of RPI, especially since we do not have the opportunity to learn about these topics in our courses. Before our GBM, many of us did not know about the UK’s Black History Month, let alone the historical impact of Black people in the UK. Our GBM equipped our members to relate with Black people in the UK and have conversations with Black Britons about their stories, which is very important to expanding our global mindset.

At our Halloween GBM, we served candy and hosted a fun “What Would You Do?” activity. In this activity, we showed our audience clips of scary Black movies (Antebellum, Get Out, Them, and Candyman) and asked the general body members to choose between some multiple choice options, created by the E-Board, of what they would do in a given scenario. The BSA E-Board beautifully decorated the room and had two photobooths for members to take memorable pictures. We also hosted a Halloween costume contest on our Discord server, and the lucky winner was Damon Melville who dressed up as "Spider Cuz!"

BSA already has a busy month ahead of us in November. We celebrated Black Solidarity Day on November 1 by taking a group picture of some members wearing all black. Black Solidarity Day is the day before elections and a time for Black people to recognize our collective economic power, and how we must stay unified to collectively use this power for the benefit of our people and communities. BSA collaborated with the African Students Association in a joint GBM, where we discussed the diversity and multifacetedness of the Black identity. We have a diverse group of Black students at RPI including Africans, African-Americans, and Afro-Caribbeans, with even more subgroups within those classifications of Black people. Our joint GBM allowed us to learn about each of our unique perspectives, cultures, and experiences that tend to get muddled together under the umbrella of the “Black experience.” With our discussion, we were able to pick apart the characteristics of each of our members' unique Black experience. It went so well that we are planning to have another one to continue this conversation and introduce other topics that are important to our community. These discussions will help our community appreciate and become more aware of the diversity of our experiences.

We held our first Black-Owned Success Series event with guest speaker Jelani Fenton, CEO and founder of Safari Insurance, a platform working to help people belonging to underrepresented students enter and excel in the insurance industry. We have also started planning for Black History Month Events in February such as BSA’s annual DC Trip, Night of Free Expression, the Ebony Ball, and the BSA Fashion Show.

Be sure to fill out our interest form which can be found in BSA’s Instagram, as well as BSA’s Discord server, to see how you can help out and be more involved in BSA!