A group of Greek organizations and multicultural clubs hosted or sponsored a Black History Month kickoff Feb. 2 at the student center, hoping to help the Black History Month Committee educate and unify the campus on matters of race and culture.
Also present at the event was Director Nicole St. Clair and Dr. Trina Lynn Yearwood from the Black and Latino Male Initiative, alongside the National Association for Black Accountants.
For Yearwood, the key to changing current injustices is “being involved on campus and advocating for social justice.” It is efforts like the BLMI that allow for forums of discussion by means of workshops and sister circles, as well as other forums of safe space for discussion and to raise awareness about the history of black culture and the surrounding community.
In the case of the Dominican Student Movement, that community involves an overlap of Latino and African cultures. As said by Lucy Pigliacelli, one of the bigger struggles has been finding a balance in the way people identify themselves.
Jocelyn Cortes of Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc.also took to mentioning multiculturalism, and what it means to have pride when she recalled her own family background.
This was a common opinion seconded by Nu Omega Chi Community Service Fraternity, Inc. and representative of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc. John Rodriguez, who said previous experiences showed him “Latinos don’t identify with Black roots.”
This was one of the greater social barriers for Rodriguez, which he hopes to break down with more multicultural events like “Platanos, Collard Greens & Callaloo,” the food fair coming up on Feb. 22.
For other organizations like the NAACP or Gamma Beta Delta, the struggles were more on the interior of the community. NAACP Vice President David Balan said his personal struggle was in sharing the understanding of Black feminism with others.
A believer that intersectionality is the forefront to success in understanding dynamics between Black men and women, Balan also broached the topic of safe spaces as a critical need that should not be taken as a way to “shut people out.”
With the many divides in the Black community on a gender, racial and cultural front, inspirations for these organizations are Black women in general, fellow brothers, and notable influencers like Robert F. Williams.
Kappa Sigma’s Jonathan Metivier believes influencers can also be students open to discussion in general. Bleeding ideas of race and culture among friends is Metivier’s personal strategy, where he says not shying away or taking insult to questions has been crucial in his understanding.
“I expect unity among the Brooklyn College community,” says Metivier, believing “that this knowledge of cultures should be everywhere rather than one specific area, just so there is a mutual understanding amongst everyone.”
That night celebrations ended with performances and chants from almost every group, where pizza and soda was served to guests that attended the event.
Black History Month efforts will continue this year with mental health awareness events run by Nu Omega Chi, which believes the medical field is in need of special attention for the Black community. Other events include dance sessions, and discussions on hot topics like gender equality and sexuality in black culture.
Corrections: March 1, Sigma Alpha Beta was edited to Sigma Lambda Beta. The food fair mentioned was given its proper name.