The complex Black experience, strong Black relationships, and Black art and music were the themes of Africana Studies Day.
Hosted by the Africana Studies department on Tuesday, the event was held in the University Student Union ballrooms and was free for anyone to attend. It was both a celebration and a conversation between faculty and students about the importance of knowing one’s own history.
Africana Studies Day began with the department’s students and staff. They highlighted the critical lessons taught in Africana Studies classes and are key to navigating the world as a Black individual. The department panel included Rojae Miller, the president of the Africana Studies Student Association and Africana Studies major.
“Take advantage of the fact that we have the privilege to be taught by professors within this department who look like us, have and are in the same struggle with us, and share many of the same experiences that we have,” Miller said. “That is the beauty of Africana Studies.”
Maulana Karenga, department chair, emphasized the power in knowing where one is really from, because it allows students to know where they are going. Karenga believes that if one learns history about people that do not look like them, it skews their view of the world.
“We teach the world as it is,” Karenga said.
The audience and panelists voiced their thoughts and opinions on topics within the Black experience and strong Black relationships. The panel touched on the recent deaths of rapper Nipsey Hussle and director John Singleton and the importance of continuing positive legacies ended too soon.
There was also an art exhibit featuring the works of Tijera Easley, a graduating senior and art major at Long Beach State. She displayed various paintings from her collection that were inspired by the Black experience in America.
Dance and Africana Studies major Jalay’Sha Seals performed an interpretative dance to Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” to end the event. Seals is also the founding member of the new majorette dance team on campus, the Jewelletes.
“I actually was trying to recreate my own interpretation of the song…feeling more happy and prideful of being Black now that I have been challenged in multiple different ways on campus due to my race and gender,” Seals said.
The Africana Studies department encourages Black students to take one or two classes to broaden their knowledge of themselves and their ancestry.