On Friday, Feb. 22, the Black Student Union and the University of Massachusetts Amherst chapter of the NAACP gave students of color a space to celebrate Black art. The event, “Celebration of Black Art” was held in the New Africa House Theatre from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“It’s a chance to have people celebrate themselves,” said Marquise Laforest, president of BSU.
At this event, students of color had the opportunity to share their art — whether through poetry, rap lyrics, or singing.
Juana Valdes, printmaking professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, acknowledges that students and faculty of color deserve a platform and a community that makes them comfortable and creates a space where students can get together to share ideas and beliefs.
“Often times, there is not enough importance put to these situations and these issues are not addressed as quickly as they need to be addressed,” Valdes said.
Valdes recalls gravitating towards making art as a junior in high school, when she was put in various creative classes. She now sees it as an opportunity to express her perception of the world.
“As a woman, as a woman of color and as an immigrant, I feel that I’m at an intersection of a lot of discriminations and push-backs of my ideas and beliefs, so I have decided to use my work as a vehicle to communicate what it’s likes to be in my position.”
Community members, faculty and students were in attendance for a talk by culinary historian and memoirist Michael W. Twitty. The talk, held Wednesday evening in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, was based off of Twitty’s 2017 personal memoir, “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South.”
For well over a decade, Twitty has worked with living history museums to recreate the cooking practices of black people, dating back to the Transatlantic slave trade. What began as his love of culinary history and cooking grew into a desire to learn and teach others the ways enslaved people raised, harvested and cultivated their crops during the 18th and 19th century.
On Friday, Feb. 8, The University of Massachusetts Korean Student Association hosted its second annual “Streets of Seoul” performances in the Campus Center Auditorium.
Close to around 300 students from across the Five Colleges were in attendance, filling up the auditorium wall to wall. As the night went on, Korean pop blared from the speakers as friends grouped around roundtables adorned with miniature trees with white Christmas lights.
Audience members and performers had the chance to grub on an assortment of Korean street food, ranging from Kimchi fried rice and spicy rice cakes to chicken wings and pork fried dumplings.
Performers included dance routines by the UMass and Smith Korean Dance Clubs, a sparing match between Amherst College Kendo members, a rap performance by trio Kimchi Gang, and a diabolo (Chinese yoyo) performance by the UMass TASC Force.
On Tuesday Feb. 5, University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Office of Equity and Inclusion presented “Understanding the Forces that Drive Us Apart: A Symposium on Polarization” as an daylong event allowing participants “to understand the history and dynamics of social polarization.”
The symposium, hosted in the Campus Center Auditorium, featured a conversation between Jelani Cobb, New Yorker staff writer and Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, and UMass Associate Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Enobong (Anna) Branch discussing freedom of speech on college campuses.