From Feb. 23 to Feb. 28, UC Davis celebrated its annual Black Family Week. This event, presented by the Cross Cultural Center (CCC), was an opportunity for students to celebrate African heritage on the UC Davis campus and community.
According to Nilofer Chollampat, a third-year psychology and a co-coordinator of Black Family Week, the event aims to showcase the culture of the black community at UC Davis.
“The week raises awareness that there is a black community on campus and that there are issues that they face,” Chollampat said.
The event staff felt that the week provides an essential way for students to find a cultural community on campus, as well as promote the value of diversity.
“We are below three percent of the students on the campus, so it is really hard to see black culture and heritage on the campus,” says Toni Postell, a fourth-year dramatic art major and a co-coordinator of Black Family Weekend.
Black Family Week gives students, faculty and the community more chances to appreciate the African American community and the diversity it brings to the UC Davis community as a whole. The week covered a wide range of topics pertaining to black history and culture, such as black Greek life on campus and interracial dating.
The week’s events incorporated a range of activities, including Gospel Extravaganza, a “One Drop Rule” discussion about the perception of color in the black community, Zumba and the annual Soul Speaks, an expression of African culture put on by African Diaspora Cultivating Education (ACE).
Maurice Carney, executive director of Friends of the Congo, came to the event to show a short film, speak about the issues affecting women in the Congo and take questions from the audience. The event, entitled “Healing the Heart of Africa,” featured a presentation about human rights violations occurring against women in the Congo.
STAND, UC Davis’ human rights-oriented club, hosted the event, which was attended by students and community members alike.
“[The event] is for the students, but also for the African American community, whether it’s people in the area or alumni or graduate students,” STAND President Natasha Jha said. “It’s an opportunity to learn more about different social justice issues not just at Davis, but all over the world.”
The week’s events not only aimed to educate students and community members, but also worked toward solidifying the pride and sense of community among black students on campus.
One event focused on black women’s natural beauty through a Natural Hair Contest put on by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Linda Francis Alexander scholars.
“It was a really great event for the black community and was empowering for black women especially,” said attendee Funke Aderonmu, a first-year international relations major. “It affirmed and celebrated the beauty of black hair and black women.”
According to Chollampat, the event coordinators wished more students knew Black Family Week was happening.
“It is a challenge getting it known to the greater Davis community because not even everyone is aware that there is a Cross Cultural Center on campus,” Chollampat said.
In order to increase student awareness, students from the CCC tabled outside the Memorial Union, utilized social media and encouraged teachers to give extra credit to students who attended events during the week.
Fong Tran, program coordinator at the CCC, said that many students are generally unaware of CCC events.
“There are students that are super aware because they are leaders on campus and take the time to engage through activism, but there are other students that might not be aware, so we as a department have made a really strong effort to be visible,” Tran said.
Black Family Week is actually separate from Black Family Day, which will be held May 17. Although Black Family Day used to be held as the kickoff ceremony for Black Family Week, Black Family Week was moved to take place during February, which is Black History Month. Despite this change, the intent behind Black Family Week has remained the same — to remind students to value the diversity on the UC Davis campus.
“The University is investing in providing the diversity on this campus and how it relates to our movement towards having students well-equipped to operate in the world,” Tran said.