This past Thursday, Feb. 14, the University of Utah Black Student Union held their fourth event of February to celebrate Black History Month. The event, “Love the Skin You’re In” took place in the U’s Union Equity Lounge. “The inspiration behind the event was to provide space and education for Black History Month to be a celebration of love,” said Ebony Tackie-Yarboi, a junior majoring in Interior Design at the U who led the planning for the event.
Tackie-Yarboi also said, “I really wanted everyone that [came] to the event to take part in celebrating their blackness and what makes us who we are. Often times there are not spaces created for us to be in the community and celebrate the power, love and pride that we hold within our community.”
“Love the Skin You’re In” offered a variety of activities for participants, including poetry readings, singing and other ways for students to showcase their talents, as well as painting, eating and listening to music.
The Black Student Union at the U is a student led organization that recognizes the need for students’ voices of the black diaspora, coordination and involvement in our communities. Tackie-Yarboi said “the Black Student Union is a brave space for people who are part of the black diaspora and the allies that want to join in this education and social space to build community,” and that members “commit to academic, social and moral development of the entire student body.”
Christa Ishimwe, a sophomore, double majoring in Health Society and Policy and Environment and Sustainability studies, said, “We always try to do things for Black History Month just to celebrate. Especially since I think we’re one of the only ‘black’ student groups on campus, this is just a fun, important way to celebrate Black History Month and black heritage and culture.”
“In a society where being black is not really that celebrated and appreciated in the media that often (through media, movies, television, etc.) we have to be able to find the love for our blackness,” Tackie-Yarboi said. “There is so much negativity around it and acts of anti-blackness. We have to show people that being black may have its limitations, but it is not going to stop our greatness.”
“I think that it’s important to help black students on campus feel loved and appreciated and so they feel like they’re being seen and that there are people looking out for them,” Ishimwe said. “It’s good to feel like there are people in your community that are actively there for you and can help you feel more at home at this university.”
There are several other events coming up for the Black Student Union members. They will be attending the Big XII Conference on Black Student Government at the University of Missouri at the end of February to represent the U and to “provide a professional and leadership development experience for black students,” Tackie-Yarboi said.
Students on campus can join the Office for Equity and Diversity at an event they are hosting to celebrate the newly founded Black Cultural Center on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 12:30 p.m. Then, on March 1 from 2-6 p.m. in the auditorium for College of Education Building (SAEC), the Black Student Union will have a workshop called “Turn Up Your Leadership: Leadership Day Summit” in partnership with an organization called Trill or Not Trill.
“The black population of people on campus is here. So for people who don’t know that they’re here, we’re here and we love our group, we love the skin we’re in, we love the black students on campus, and we’re always here to support them as well as support other minority groups and other student groups,” Ishimwe said. “Always celebrate black history, not only in February, but throughout the year. You can and should celebrate any day you want.”