As Black History Month draws to a close, it’s important to remember that celebrating black culture should not be restricted to one month. It is celebrated every day. That is what students gathered for in the Colony Ballroom in Stamp Thursday night.

The event, called “My Black is Beautiful,” was organized by Maryland MANE.

The night was filled with several serious yet fun presentations from the event’s co-sponsors.

Astrid Díaz and Aida Martinez, members of the Chi Chapter of Sigma Iota Alpha, demonstrate a popular type of dance in the black community called strolling during the "My Black is Beautiful" event in College Park, Md. on Feb. 25, 2016. (Jack Angelo/Bloc Reporter)
Astrid Díaz and Aida Martinez, members of the Chi Chapter of Sigma Iota Alpha, demonstrate a popular type of dance in the black community called strolling during the “My Black is Beautiful” event in College Park, Md. on Feb. 25, 2016. (Jack Angelo/Bloc Reporter)

Brothers of Theta Theta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and sisters of Chi Chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha showed a video about the history of stepping and strolling, a type of dance with ties to African roots. Then the brothers and sisters each performed their own versions of strolling.

Representatives from the Caribbean Students Association addressed the stereotype of the angry Caribbean woman, showing a funny video that captured the stereotype perfectly.

Members of the Upsilon Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority and PLUMA presented on Afro-Latinidades and the effects of living with a dual identity.

Corrine Paul, a junior government major who also helped with PLUMA’s presentation on Afro-Latinidad, said she liked the diversity represented in the event.

“The whole presentation just gave us a whole bunch of different perspectives on blackness and celebrating it.”

Paul said it’s important to show the richness and diversity of the black community.

“I think a lot of times people who aren’t in the community, they have one idea of what it means to be black, but there are so many facets to it,” she said.

After modeling in the hair fashion show, flowered Ariana Braganza applauds in the audience during the "My Black is Beautiful" event in College Park, Md. on Feb. 25, 2016. (Jack Angelo/Bloc Reporter)
After modeling in the hair fashion show, flowered Ariana Braganza applauds in the audience during the “My Black is Beautiful” event in College Park, Md. on Feb. 25, 2016. (Jack Angelo/Bloc Reporter)

Another topic was natural hair. Black men and women strutted down the center of the room as if it were a fashion runway. Each was sporting a different, natural hairstyle to show that all hair is beautiful.

Paul was a fan of the hair modeling.

“I have natural hair so I like seeing different styles and how it can be professional in the workplace,” she said.

Terez Lambert, a junior community health major, also enjoyed seeing the hairstyles.

“I think natural black hair is really pretty so I think it’s cool black people are moving forward with that movement,” Lambert said.

There was another runway performance that showcased the history of black fashion. Black men and women modelled outfits from the ‘60s to near present. Fashion looks from Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland made appearances.

Perhaps the most moving presentation of the night, however, was the Theta Theta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity’s dedication to black women. Brothers of the fraternity showed an empowering video to the audience.

Whitney Norgriff, a senior English major, enjoyed the whole event.

”I think it was very educational and empowering. I grasped a lot of information, and I think it helped me respect who I am more as a black person,” she said.

Norgriff said the video was her favorite part. She also liked the ad-libbed poetry at the conclusion.

To close out the night, members of the NCNW asked the audience to ad-lib adapted versions of the poems “Beautiful Black Woman” by Vernon J. Davis Jr. and “My Pledge of Allegiance to Me” by Letitia L. Hodge. While that was happening, Bianca Onwukwe, a senior economist major and artist, painted her idea of “black girl magic.”

“They made everyone, even if they weren’t black, appreciate the race more,” Norgriff said

Deanna Stephen, a freshman letters and sciences major, said she’s glad this university offers events like this but wished a more diverse group of students attended.

“The world would be boring if everyone was the same, so it’s amazing when people embrace other cultures as well as their own,” Stephen said.

“You hear all these kids all over campus listening to Drake and other black artists. These are black artists. They’re so revered in pop culture and I feel like if we emphasize that, along with the culture, you can like their music but also learn about them as a people,” she added.

Black History Month may be over, but the heritage and culture of black people, as well as the prejudices against them, live on every day.

“In the past, being black or having dark skin or curly hair was always seen as a bad thing, and it’s still in our society today,” Paul said, expressing the need for celebrating blackness. “It’s necessary to have these events to remind people that there’s nothing wrong with you for being black and it’s something beautiful no matter what society’s telling you.”

Featured Photo Credit: Senior Economics Major and Artist Bianca Onwukwe paints her interpretation of “Black Girl Magic” live on stage during the “My Black is Beautiful” event in College Park, Md. on Feb. 25, 2016. The finished piece will be displayed in the Nyumburu Cultural Center. (Jack Angelo/Bloc Reporter)

Rosie Kean is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at vrosekean@gmail.com

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