Black Students Alliance

BSA celebrates Black History Month

By Tiffany Filawo '23 April 6, 2022

Black History Month was this past February, and it is the busiest and most exciting month for BSA because we hold a multitude of events to share Black culture with the Rensselaer community! In the limited time we had during BHM, as it is during the shortest month of the year, we were still able to put together amazing events such as a joint general body meeting to kick off BHM, Commons and Sage Food Nights, Night of Free Expression, and a part two of our joint Black Identity General Body Meeting.

To kick off BHM, all the Black clubs and organizations at RPI (BSA, African Students Association, the Caribbean Students Association, National Society of Black Engineers, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Black Graduate Students Association) came together to host a joint GBM. All of our members came together as we presented our theme for the month: Afrofuturism. I define Afrofuturism as Black people acknowledging our oppressive past but using it as a catalyst to push our bright and progressive future forward. Afrofuturism also means making sure that we push a future for Black people curated by Black people and not one imposed on us by non-Black people. We had a deep discussion about the theme that was based on questions such as: “How can Afrofuturism challenge the framework of our society?” Students delved into the complexities of what Afrofuturism is and how we will practice it.

BSA also hosted part two of our joint Black Identity GBM in collaboration with ASA and the newly created CSA. We continued this conversation that started last semester with part one of this Black Identity GBM with questions including: “How do you interpret these terms: Race, Nationality, Ethnicity?” and “What do you identify as and why?”

Every year during Black History Month, BSA hosts Black themed dinners in the RPI dining halls once a week. This year we alternated between Commons and Sage every Wednesday and hosted African, Soul, Caribbean, and Afrolatinx themed food nights to celebrate the culinary diversity across different Black cultures. Playlists that fit the food theme were played in the dining halls. We encouraged our members and the rest of the RPI community to head over to the dining halls to enjoy the Black themed menus which were specially curated by Jeda Coward ’23 and Makenna Noel ’23, BSA’s secretary and co-secretary respectively.

Night of Free Expression is one of BSA’s biggest annual events where we invite various performing acts from RPI to artistically and culturally express themselves. We had over 13 performing acts thanks to the great help of BSA’s Alumni Chair Jasmine Filawo ’23 and BSA’s Events Manager Rachel Mohabir ’23. RPI’s own RPI Ragaa, Rusty Pipes, RPI Rounak, Partial Credit, RPI Bhangra, the Alphas, and 8th Wonder all performed. There were also solo acts such as Tyra Edgehill-Parker performing a self-choreographed routine to “Mercy” by Chloë, and Cat Tonias Chester Hughes, Evan Hernandez, and Madison Perez performing a medley of songs with instruments and a vocalist. We also had open mic performances where bold students who signed up the day of the event performed! Then, to end the night, we had guest spoken word poets. Lady Caress and Kyla Jenée Lacey tuned in virtually to perform their popular poems. The Union Show Techs did an amazing job with lights and sound as they always do at BSA events. Head over to our Instagram to see everyone’s amazing performances that night!

BSA also collaborated with the Multicultural Leadership Committee in hosting a Black History Month themed trivia night in the Clubhouse Pub on February 18. Food and soft drinks were served and all proceeds were donated to Project Clothe A Child.

Black History Month was very eventful and memorable for BSA because we were able to bring together members inside and outside of our community to revel in our culture and truly appreciate it. BSA is going to be busy with our Ebony Ball on March 18. It is a formal event where we will be awarding exceptional students within our community along with serving food and drinks specially selected by BSA’s Executive Board. Director of Intercultural Student Engagement at the University of Albany Dr. Ekow King will be our keynote speaker and he will hit on our BHM theme of Afrofuturism. Then we’ll end the night opening up the dance floor with DJ Syxx Figgaz. It is going to be a night to remember and definitely not one to miss!

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