Tag Archives: BSU

Caleb Banks, psychology major, attended a screening of "Fruitvale Station," a film about Oscar Grant III, on-campus earlier last week. (Photo courtesy of Shawn Calhoun)

BSU Hosts 5th Annual Black Cultural Dinner, Discusses Racial Profiling

The USF Black Student Union (BSU) held its 5th Annual Black Cultural Dinner last Thursday evening.

The event is put on every year to comemmorate Black History Month, and this year, was dedicate dto making conversation about racial profiling.

Reverand Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant III, the 22-year-old male who was shot and killed by BART police in Oakland in 2009, spoke about the challenges of people of color in the Bay Area, the “Stop and Frisk” law, and the film “Fruitvale Station,” which tells Grant’s story.

Rapper MC Lyte Speaks About Hip Hop during Black Cultural Dinner

Rapper MC Lyte was the keynote speaker at the Black Cultural Dinner organized by the Black Students Union (BSU) as their signature event for Black History Month on February 23.

The Black Cultural dinner is an annual event held by BSU to provide a space that highlights the accomplishments of people in the African-American community.

“The purpose of the dinner is to inspire and empower all people, not just African Americans. This is a safe space for us all to connect and to feed off one another’s energy,” said Ciara Swann, BSU’s publicist.

MC Lyte began her lecture stating her love for hip hop, a genre in which she was a pioneer. She was the first female rapper to release a solo album, Lyte as Rock, in 1988.

“Hip hop is love, is charming, is inspirational, is motivating, is crucial, is necessary, is flavored, is revolutionary,” Lyte said.

Currently, Lyte is also a motivational speaker, an entrepreneur and is active in social projects such as anti-violence campaigns.

“Since the theme of the evening was Arts and Activism, Lyte was the perfect choice,” Camille Watts, BSU vice president said, “She uses her talents to spread truth, her opinions and her beliefs, and that is very inspiring to us all.”

At the beginning of the lecture, Lyte spoke about her first encounter with music. She was visiting her grandparents when she heard a rap record playing on a radio outside her house.

“I just heard that voice that was so captivating, I thought, ‘I got to be in there’,” Lyte said.
She wrote her first song in 1982, when she was 12 years old. The song was about being in love with a boy addicted to cocaine. It was recorded years later in 1986.

Lyte’s said her mission was to deliver positive messages to youth. Her key principles are, “Stay as far as you can from anything related to drugs, never let people take advantage of you and stand up for something.”

Content with the work she has accomplished she added, “It is a beautiful thing when you are living your purpose, because it is like working without working.”

Contrasting the meaning behind the past and present generations of of hip hop, Lyte said hip hop in the 1980s was about helping the community.

“We said what we wanted, talked about issues. We were courageous warriors who stood in the front line to deliver truth,” she said.

With regards to the type of hip hop music produced today Lyte said, “The change in hip hop has resulted in many children being led to think that life is one big party. Kids are beginning to think that being the dude that makes it rain in the club is something to aspire to be,” she said.
She also stressed the misogyny present in many songs.

“They disrespect every woman they have ever laid eyes on. They are soon to have their own daughters who will have to fight for the respect they deserve, not knowing her fathers perpetuated hate many years prior,” she said.

Lyte also described the hip hop industry as a “money-making machine.” She talked about how record companies arrange contracts with radio stations or magazines to display the artists.

“Those rappers seem powerful but are powerless because the power now belongs to the machine, to the system,” she said, “They have given up on defending their brothers and sisters and have succumbed to just the delivering of words that rhyme. Having real power means making choices that involve more than just yourself.”

Despite her critiques, Lyte seemed hopeful about the future of hip hop.
“Hip hop goes through these twists and turns, so you will be sure to find the hip hop that you love. There is so much music out there that feeds the soul. It’s just not in the Top 10,” she said.

Several of Lyte’s fans sat in the audience while she gave her lecture. Brandon Mendiola, 47, who works in the Upward Bound Program at USF, brought two of his records to the event.

“She’s a legend. An artist that is not ashamed of her body of work in the past twenty years. It’s great for young people to be exposed to her work,” he said.

Students Express Cultural Pride During Black History Month

On Wednesday February 8, USF’s Black Student Union and the Intercultural Center’s Lyricist Lounge hosted a cultural empowerment event called “Expressions.” Students gathered in celebration of Black History Month to share music, poems and dance inspired by their cultural identity.
Reflecting before the event, Black Student Union Vice President Camille Janae sat in the front row contemplating the words of a poem that expressed how she intends to create her legacy.
“I want to create a legacy of giving it my all to whatever I do, and also, being a person who serves others, and someone who does for others for the sake of doing it for others, not for my own honor or recognition,” Janae said.
She also said why Black History Month is important to her.
“It gives people a chance to reflect in the black community, and to remember people from the past who were brave enough and had courage to stand up for change. And in doing so, made a way for people to be where they are today,” said Janae.
Continuing to link the significance of Black history month to the legacy she wants to create, Janae said her appreciation for her ancestors has a lot to do with her passion for her identity.
“No matter who you are, where you are in your life, especially if you have come far…I feel like it’s a responsibility to give back in some sort of way. Paying it forward if you will,” Janae said.
“Expressions” was meant to create a presence of the African American community on campus. It was one of many other events that will be held in honor of Black History Month also known as national African American History month.
Students who do not identify as Black or African American also attended the event. Some contributed pieces ranging from themes of love, courage and female empowerment. Others also spoke about their appreciation of loved ones.
Sophomore Keyaira Lock sang one of her favorite jazz love songs by Julie London entitled: “You’d be so nice to come home to.”
It was Lock’s second time participating in the expressions event. She explained her motivation for participating.
“The environment here is really supportive, and it being Black history month I wish students could come out and support these types of cultural events…A lot of the times we feel underrepresented and a lot times we feel the University community doesn’t support us as much as they should, and I think they are missing out on a lot,” said Lock.
The Black Student Union’s largest event will be their Black Cultural Dinner to be held February 23. The keynote speaker will be MC Lyte, who is most commonly known for being a female rapper in the late 80’s. Her most recent work includes educating the community on issues facing female African Americans in regards to black female empowerment.

Staged Slave Auction Nixed in Favor of Readings

USF’s Black Student Union (BSU) brought history to life last Thursday with a performance where four members of BSU performed narratives from the book “When I Was a Slave” by Norman Yetman, describing the lives of slaves.

One narrative talked about how slaves were hit with a warm iron and were ‘burned to the flesh,’ while another narrative of a who picked cotton described being whipped and lynched.

Despite the serious and gripping content of these accounts, BSU’s original idea for the event was even more arresting, in fact ending up called off for fear of being too offensive.

Slave Auction Reenactment by Domonic Sandoval

BSU members perform narratives from the book When I Was a Slave, by Norman Yetman for an audience of about 30 students. (Emily Bogden/Foghorn)

BSU’s “original plan” was the staging of a historically accurate colonial American slave auction. The auction was to begin with a group of students dressed in rags and chains, playing the roles of slaves for sale, marched by a white student, playing the role of auctioneer, through campus onto the stage in Harney plaza. White students in the crowd were to make bids for the slaves on stage.

To help maintain historical accuracy, the Black Student Union recruited advisor and history professor Candice Harrison. Harrison immediately noticed concern from the faculty at USF concerning the BSU’s planned slave auction.

“Once we addressed [faculty] concerns,” Harrison says, “I don’t think any of us stopped to think that students themselves might be uncomfortable. African American students, as well as the broader student population.”

Harrison and her students all note it became obvious the slave auction did not have enough willing participants to go forward, either from the BSU, or from the USF student body in general.

USF student Darius Halliday was asked by the BSU to play the role of a slave. He declined. “I thought it was too conflicting with me to portray myself as something so historically controversial,” he said,” particularly “to an audience that may not be able to understand what is going on or wouldn’t take it seriously.”

Because of this, the group opted for a less controversial but still powerful method of conveying their message.

Camille Watts, a sophomore and Community Action Coach for BSU, read a story from an ex-slave. After her performance, she said “The whole time I knew there was no need for me to get people to truly understand it because I will never truly understand what slavery was like…I just read it as best I could and let people feel what they were going to feel.”

International Studies major Ashley Cervantes said, “representing such strong figures must have been a challenge [for the speakers]. It was an impressive feat to embody powerful figures.”

The discussion at Fromm Hall focused on how people today can understand slave history. Attendees reflected on how African-Americans had a rich history before slavery.

BSU President Krystal Aaron said Black History Month “to me is celebrating the struggles and the glory that our ancestors were able to overcome. I think that it’s often overlooked by so many people…  even African-Americans ourselves tend to overlook and not reminisce on everything that our ancestors have done granted everything that’s been given to us.”

Harrison said, “We’re still not ready to do away with Black History Month. We have progressed so much in terms of writing African-American experiences into a narrative of American history. There’s still a lot more to go. Normally when you talk about Black History, it goes one of two ways; we talk about the future or about a really ugly, painful past.”

The discussion bridged the gap between slavery and today. Attendees discussed how slaves were seen as commodities . Harrison puts a positive spin on this view by saying slaves were families who loved one another and their strength is passed down to future generations.
For every week in February, BSU will plan events at USF.

Harrison said Black History Month is a “genuine reflection of that past and how meaningful it is to us today. And by us I mean Americans.”

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Natalie Cappetta

News Editor: Ericka Montes

BSU Hosts 1300 Fillmore Owners at Black History Dinner

BSU Diner

Black Student Union President Courtney Ball and Politics Professor James Taylor share a laugh at BSU”s Cultural Awareness Dinner last Thursday evening. (Melissa Stihl|Foghorn)

When most people hear the word “February,” they think about Valentine’s Day, flowers, and hearts. However, February is also Black History Month, a time for all races to come together to appreciate the history and the future of African-American people.

Each year at USF, the Black Student Union  holds a variety of entertaining, educational and culturally enriching events in celebration of Black History Month.

BSU Vice-President of Internal Affairs, Halimah Najieb-Locke said, “Black History Month is a time for all of America, and the world, to reflect on the influence African Americans have had on this country’s development and the key role we play in the direction the world is going.  It is also a time to pay our respects as a people to those who have passed who were in the struggle to gain our rights as a people.”

On Feb. 26, BSU held the 2009 Black Cultural Dinner as the final event of the Black History Month celebration. The event was very popular among USF students; members of BSU had to bring in additional tables and chairs during the event because of the large number of attendees.

Politics Professor James Taylor gave an overview of the San Francisco Fillmore District and the rich history of politics, culture, and jazz that thrives in the Fillmore. The dinner was comprised of warm spinach salad, catfish po’boys, buttermilk chive mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, and USF alumnus Preston Walton’s personal recipe for chicken and andouille gumbo.

After the delicious feast, Managing Partner Monetta White and Executive Chef David Lawrence of the restaurant 1300 Fillmore spoke about their experience doing business in the historic Fillmore neighborhood. They held an open discussion forum describing the current environment of the Fillmore District and the revitalization of the area.

Junior psychology major, Elizabeth Quintero, who attended the Black Cultural Dinner, said, “I have lived in the Bay Area my whole life and always known of the crime in the Fillmore District, but after today I am glad to have been informed of how things are changing and being revitalized in such a historic area.”

White and Lawrence’s restaurant gives back to the community through community service. They use their upscale restaurant to disprove the negative stereotypes of the area and help return the Fillmore to its roots and times of prosperity.

Lawrence describes his cuisine as “soul food made in a French technique.” He treated all members of the audience to a delicious dessert of caramelized apple bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and candied pecans.

Junior Johnny Barajas, who attended the event, said, “The event was put on well and gave a terrific and in-depth overview of Black History Month. I will definitely attend next year.”

After the event concluded, Najieb-Locke said, “I would like to say that Black History Month is not just a time to pay homage to our forefathers, but a time to gain inspiration from their strength and move forward in our futures as powerful men and women who can effectuate important, and irreplaceable change to this world.”