Recognition, Respect, and Empowerment
By Edina Hadzic
The lights go dim and the auditorium falls silent as the members of NCP’s Black Student Union take the stage. Every year, as a conclusion to Black History Month, BSU presents a showcase of original and borrowed spoken poetry pieces that discuss relevant issues within the black community. The pieces performed during the showcase correlate with a different theme each year, and this year’s theme discussed the portrayal of the black community through film, media, and online social platforms. The themes and specific pieces provided a powerful, in-depth analysis of current issues faced within the black community. “The showcase provides an opportunity for us to get our message across about topics that people don’t talk about often,” said Ikenna Eleu, Adv. 904.
“Determining the theme for the showcase is always a team effort,” said Osazee Osaghae, Adv. 904. In preparation for the showcase, BSU members file through countless pieces until they find the ones they feel sound best and most effectively communicate the intended theme of the show. “The process for showcase can be stressful… but as stressful as it is, it becomes worthwhile when we perform in front of the school in the end,” said Alison Tatchoum, Adv. 907. This year’s pieces discussed film, cartoons, and music, as well as touching on topics like the Black Girl Magic movement and the prevalence of cultural appropriation.
The performance began with an original piece from Osaghae, “Story of Jay.” As he paced across the stage, he spoke about the death of one of his close friends as well as the daily struggles and obstacles he faces. “Not many people know much about me…it was a way for me to express who I actually am as a person outside of my humor and general positive attitude,” said Osaghae.
The program continued with pieces discussing the lack of representation and diversity within film and entertainment, referencing recent Academy and Grammy awards ceremonies. This was followed by pieces on the necessity for non-black individuals to eliminate the use of derogatory and oppressive language, the importance of celebrating women of color, and the problematic connotations of white women altering their physical appearance in a way that mimics and demeans black women. This collection of poetry was performed by groups of students, with the multitude of their voices used to emphasize the importance of the words they spoke.
Another original piece, “Off White,” was written and performed by Eleu. In this poem, he discusses his early experiences with the detrimental effects of racial stereotyping in grade school. As his words echoed through the auditorium, the pain and confusion he felt was tangible. “I wanted to write a more personal piece, it was a way of confronting what happened when I was younger. It helped me move on,” said Eleu.
The showcase concluded with all the members of BSU coming together on stage. One by one, each stepped forward and proclaimed the changes that need to be made to encourage a more balanced and accountable society. As they stood in unity on stage with their fists raised high, the lights dimmed the stage one final time and the auditorium filled with the sound of applause.