Black Student Union organizes campus-wide lectures and service events to engage students in Black History Month

In celebration of Black History Month and black culture, the Black Student Union (BSU) has organized a month of events for the Trinity community to participate in. Each of the events encapsulates a core part of the culture, and BSU hopes the month will widen the perspective of students on campus.

BSU dubbed the February festivities Mocha Month and kicked it off with their Rent Party, which is a celebration of soul food and the significance of socializing within the African-American community.

“Our job is to educate people. We receive a lot of questions as to what our culture is all about, but we feel it’s better to invite those things on campus and have people experience them firsthand,” said Tahlar Rowe, president of BSU.

On Tuesday, BSU invited the Trinity community to listen to former NPR correspondent, Michele Norris, speak about “The Race Card Project,” and on Wednesday a discussion of the lecture was held in the Waxahachie Room.

BSU is also hosting a blood drive project in support of people with sickle cell anemia, a disease that is more common in the black community than any other. Members of the union will be outside of Coates University Center every Monday this month from 11:00 to 2:00 to help all those who would like to register.

“We like to go out within the San Antonio community and seek who needs our assistance. We partner with them and bring others to serve,” Rowe said.

Along with the bone marrow drive, BSU has arranged a service project at the San Antonio State Hospital.

“Many times in the black community, we view mental illness as a negative thing, so we want students to know that BSU supports mentally disabled patients,” said Maia Ogembo, public realtor and Black History Month coordinator for BSU.

BSU wants to engage the Trinity community with these events and hopes to bring a new perspective to students on campus. Because the majority of students on campus aren’t black, BSU’s main goal is to educate others about their culture.

“I think, because our school is not as diverse as other schools, there’s a one-sided view to what certain cultures can be, and I think it’s really important for people who are minorities to effectively express and demonstrate to others the correct insight to their culture and why their culture is unique,” Rowe said.

In addition to celebrating the culture of the past, BSU intends to celebrate black culture today by educating people on campus and by expressing the true goal of BSU.

“Our whole mission is to have an impact, not in numbers, but in our contribution to this school. I think it’s important to add to the Trinity culture,” said Simone Washington, member of BSU.

Mocha Month will also include a night of poetry with poet Tro’Juan Henderson, a trip to church to explore the true manner of black services and Mocha Life, a celebration of black art.

“Mocha Life is essentially the climax of Mocha Month; it’s the Black History Show. There you have all talents around school. There’s dancing, singing, poetry, spoken word, all types of things that encapsulate black culture,” Rowe said.

In past years, Black History Month at Trinity was celebrated only with Mocha Life; however, BSU expanded the celebration last year. BSU hopes to continue to expand the events and festivities of black culture, as well as all other cultural celebrations on campus.

“This is not for us. This is for them. We know our culture; we know why we’re unique. We need to make it a necessity for people to know,” Rowe said.

More than ever, BSU has felt the need to spread awareness of their culture and to spread their representation on campus.

“I think in light of what’s going on outside of campus, outside of our liberal bubble, we just need to bring a new perspective to campus, so people can branch out. A lot of people want to understand what it’s like in somebody else’s shoes, so we’re bringing a lot of different events to campus that I think will enhance people’s understanding of the culture,” Washington said.

Because Trinity is a predominantly white institution, BSU feels the need to become more involved. They invite everyone to their events to avoid maintaining bubbles of culture.

“I think it’s important for people to get to know all cultures. Knowledge is important, especially understanding people’s culture and where they’re coming from,” Ogembo said.

Although there are students who are interested in learning about black culture, BSU recognizes that there will be many that will not attend these events or that will not understand the relevance of understanding their culture.

“There might be people who are not open to learning, but there are more people who are very inquisitive. It’s a necessity because we are a minority and because a lot of people have different perceptions of our culture from what they’re heard or what they’ve read. It’s my job to help people and answer questions, so there are no more fragmented ideas around what different cultures are,” Rowe said.

BSU invites all students to join in celebrating Mocha Month and in discussing black culture. A calendar of events can be found on their Facebook page. For more information, you can email trinitybsu1@gmail.com.