A ‘cultural way’ to educate WLU


Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros
Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

On Feb. 27, the opening performers of the Black History Month Culture Show walked onto the Turret stage under the dimmed lights, with booming voices and chilling quotes from black victims that struck the audience silent.

The culture show was organized by the Association of Black Students in collaboration with other Wilfrid Laurier University students who wished to contribute their talents and cultural ideals of the minority black population at the university.

The slogan for the culture show, “black lives matter,” was a key idea used in promoting what the culture show was about while bringing awareness to black culture at Laurier.

The acts that followed the opening set were a contrast of songs, rhythmic performances and emotional words by students who shared what they felt it means to be a black citizen living in Canada.

Angelique Graham, director of initiative in programming for ABS, explained the event was an opportunity for students to express their artistry such as singing, dancing and the spoken word.

It is also a way to promote the awareness of Black History Month for those who don’t know much about it, she said.

“This is a way to educate the people of what black history is … It is very important for us to celebrate those moments that were achieved,” Graham said.

The event took a tremendous amount of planning starting from the beginning of the school year, Graham explained. Preparation included catering, venders, decoration and performers in order for the event to unfold effectively.

Kanisha Bortey, DJ for the event, said she had the job of setting a welcoming atmosphere for the show by choosing a variety of music that people would like to hear.

For many of the artists, it was an opportunity to let out what it means for them to be a black young-adult within the boundaries of a Canadian society. Many of the poetic stories told by those on stage tapped into their own personal experiences of the expectations and judgments they feel are pressed upon them as a black Canadian.

Individuals spoke about aspects from their lives such as the way they feel other people gaze at them in a store or getting picked first for a sport because of how they look.

Students expressed themselves in an array of colours that transcended past the singular shade of black, which many are concerned is the only defining colour society has set upon them.

“We get a lot of feedback after the show saying how it is a success and how they took away something from this event,” Graham said in regards to the kinds of feedback she receives.

As a reaction to this, the audience did not shy back from complimenting the performances with snaps, claps and cheers.

“It’s our time where we can show everyone from the Laurier community … from Toronto or wherever they’re coming from, our culture, what black lives mean, what black culture means to us,” said Bortey.


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