By Sarah Anthony, Staff Writer
February will mark the 90th anniversary of an official Black History Month in the United States. While the Intercultural Programs at Asbury already makes an effort to support all ethnic groups on campus, its semester focus this spring will be African-American culture.
“We are to provide an opportunity to be more aware of what the real challenges and struggles are faced by our African-American friends and family,” said the Director of Intercultural Programs Esther Jadhav.
Last semester, the department focuses on Hispanic culture and celebrated Hispanic History Month in September. They featured a mariachi band at dinner, premiered McFarland, USA on the green and had a Hispanic art feature. This semester, Esther Jadhav and the Black Student Alliance (BSA) have special plans on how to make this Black History month just as special.
Esther Jadhav says, “The reason we’re focusing on African-American culture this semester is because of our intentionality with intercultural programming.” Jadhav affirms that the office has always tried to provide an emphasis on African-American culture, but at this present time, it’s important for Asbury’s campus to be informed on the current challenges faced by African-Americans.
“We want to make our students aware and want them to be informed as much as they can. Students should be equipped in a way that provides them the content on these topics,” said Jadhav. “We were not influenced necessarily by what’s happening in our nation [regarding racial tension] but there seems to be a synergy this semester with our programming and what’s happening in the United States.”
The first thing leading up to Black History Month will be a diversity dialogue in regards to the movement Black Lives Matter. The dialogue will be discussing the movement’s importance and appropriate ways to respond to it. There will also be some more light-hearted events. The Black Student Alliance has planned for February a Black History “week” in where each night is a different event building up to Asbury’s own Night at the Apollo at the end of the week.
“I honestly think just presenting our culture in an informative but fun and interesting fashion can really make an impact on campus,” said senior and vice president of the Black Student Alliance Quentin Carter.
Each event is fun and unique in its own way, but will still fixate on the issues at stake.
“We want to focus on the idea of identity and knock off some of the general stereotypes people may have,” said Carter. “Sometimes people can unintentionally confuse being African-American with being African. While they have a connection, they are not the same. That’s part of what we can do this semester, to help identify our culture apart to its own self… I know a lot of people are interested in African-American culture, and hopefully BSA and the Intercultural Programs Office can really show people what it’s all about.”