The Black Student Union, an organization that encourages the appreciation of Black culture, hosted their first-ever talent show on April 29.
Nyasia Griffin, a junior social and behavioral sciences and nursing double major, is the rising president of BSU. She said amid peaceful protests to protect the Africana Studies program, it is important for students to recognize “Black joy.”
“It’s important to have Black joy,” Griffin said, “To show off how talented we are, how fun we are, how we can laugh together, and how we are connected not just through our pain but our joy.”
Griffin said being African American and Caribbean, she wanted to showcase the talents of Black students from different backgrounds.
“At a lot of historically Black colleges and universities, they do a lot of cultural showcases, and I wanted to bring that to the Black Student Union and to Seton Hall,” Griffin said. “We have a huge diaspora full of talented people that do different things and who are part of different cultures, whether they’re Afro-Latina, Caribbean, African, or African American, so we wanted to showcase that.”
Sam Cheemalapati, a freshman interactive multimedia major, said in light of the Africana Studies movement that the talent show demonstrates how students are “all connected as one.”
“It’s important to know that BSU is not just for people who are of African American descent,” Cheemalapati said. “Letting people know that no matter what ethnicity, culture, or race you are, you can do anything. You can be part of the arts and show off your talents in many different ways, and I think that’s a great way to spread inclusivity.”
Amatullah Muhammad, a sophomore mathematics and secondary education double major, is a co-captain and social media coordinator of Black Illusion, the BSU Dance Team. She said she has been performing in musical theater since fifth grade.
“For Black culture, music is definitely a big thing,” Muhammad said. “It’s a way for us to have a good time. So for me, to be able to partake in an event where I was surrounded by people with like-mindedness who wanted to celebrate their stories—that was pretty cool.”
Muhammad said the show embodied a “sense of togetherness” that she hopes to increase within BSU.
“I want to make us more prevalent in the Seton Hall community, not just as our own entity, but as being part of it,” Muhammad said.
Jada Ball, a senior psychology major, is the president of the Gospel Choir. She said Gospel music is an integral part of Black culture.
“My culture is everything,” Ball said. “It’s what makes me who I am. So to share me and to share my life and to share the Ministry of Jesus is to show my culture.”
Ball said she enjoyed watching the talent show unify students of all races. “Black Student Union has gone into a space that is not for us, but made a space for us,” Ball said. “So the work that they're doing is absolutely impactful.”
Peyton Hruska can be reached at email@example.com